PENRITH, AUSTRALIA - JUNE 18: Joseph Suaalii of the Roosters looks dejected after the Roosters were defeated by the Pamthers during the round 15 NRL match between the Penrith Panthers and the Sydney Roosters at Panthers Stadium, on June 18, 2021, in Penrith, Australia. (Photo by Mark Kolbe/Getty Images)

With a number of high-profile players declaring their allegiance for Pacific Island and second-tier nations ahead of the end-of-year World Cup, Kangaroos coach Mal Meninga has given an indication he’ll look to the future as he begins his rebuild of the national team.

Meninga told the Sun-Herald that he believes teenage Roosters’ winger Joseph Suaalii is ready for the Test arena, claiming there are “no questions he’ll handle the international scene.”

Suaalii has become a mainstay in coach Trent Robinson’s starting side this year, scoring 13 tries in 15 appearances as a key component in the Roosters’ late-season charge toward the finals.

“I’m a fan of Joseph, absolutely,” Meninga said.

PERTH, AUSTRALIA - OCTOBER 15: Australian coach Mal Meninga talks with Sam Thaiday and Cameron Smith after winning the International Rugby League Test match between the Australian Kangaroos and the New Zealand Kiwis at nib Stadium on October 15, 2016 in Perth, Australia. (Photo by Paul Kane/Getty Images)

“He’s right in the (selection) picture, particularly if the Roosters keep their run going.

“He’s a genuine selection option. He’s just a talent. He always has been. I like his courage.”

Meninga dismissed any uncertainty over Suaalii’s age, comparing the 19-year-old’s early rise to those of Israel Folau and Greg Inglis.

“(Those two) came in at a young age, so if you’re talking about age, there are no questions about Joseph handling the international stage.”

The Kangaroos coach has previously said that he won’t be chasing players to come and join the national team, and that he only wants players who want to represent their country.

Though Suaalii is technically eligible for Samoa through his family roots, his comments after Friday’s game against Brisbane would have given Meninga heart after so many players have shied away from the Australian team in recent weeks.

“I haven’t thought about it too much, but I want to be there at the World Cup,” Suaalii said, per the Sydney Morning-Herald.

“I’m trying to make that Australian team. If I’m lucky enough I’ll make that Samoan team as well.

“To get picked for either of them would be an honour. If I’m playing at the World Cup, I’ll be happy.”