James Tedesco might be all but a certainty to wear the number one jumper for Australia at this year's 2022 Rugby League World Cup, but coach Mal Meninga has revealed Kalyn Ponga will be considered for the squad.
However, a long lay off from concussion, as well as last week's bathroom incident, left Ponga looking as if he may have been an outsider for Meninga's 24-man squad, which will be named in the coming weeks ahead of the tournament.
Meninga flagged there could be a PM's XIII match in the weeks before the Cup to help with form, but with both Tom Trbojevic and Ryan Papenhuyzen injured, the comments to The Sydney Morning Herald around Ponga's possible inclusion carry plenty of weight from the coach, who has recently been left frustrated by a number of potential Kangaroos players switching to play for Pacific Island nations.
It's understood the Prime Minister's match would be set to be held in the third week of the NRL finals, likely against a nation like Papua New Guinea, as it was in 2019.
“He was the victorious Queensland fullback, he will certainly come into calculations,” Meninga said of Ponga's chances.
“I don’t think because of a lack of games that you’re any less of a player.
“They will be able to get their match fitness up in those three games, there’s no doubt about that. If we’ve got the PM’s [clash], that’s four games. When it comes to the selection process, they need to be ratified by the game itself, but Kalyn might not get to that stage because the club and the specialist might say he’s better off having a good rest.”
Meninga also confirmed Tom Trbojevic would come into calculations if fit.