Mal and Gal to sit down next week

Kangaroos coach Mal Meninga will sit down with Paul Gallen at next week’s True Blues dinner in Sydney to discuss his retention in the national set-up.


Gallen’s future in the green and gold has been under a cloud with the retiring NSW State of Origin skipper revealing earlier this week he hadn’t spoken with Meninga since the former Queensland coach was appointed Kangaroos mentor last December.

Meninga said it was normal for him not to speak to players before the representative season begins.

“That’s me. I’ve always had the attitude that club football goes first,” Meninga told AAP.

“When the rep season is about to come on, I’ll start ringing players up that I think are going to be part of the team. That hasn’t happened yet.”

Meninga admitted he also wanted to see how Gallen returned from his recent knee injury, having missed three weeks earlier in the NRL season.

The Cronulla captain, who hasn’t played for Australia since May 2014, has since punched out a total 132 minutes over the past fortnight.

“He’s just got back on the footy field, hasn’t he?” Meninga said.

“He’s in the picture, so we’ll keep a pretty close eye on his performance this weekend in particular and make some more judgment as we go forward.

“I’ll have a yarn to him next week anyway because I’m at the True Blues dinner. I can have a yarn to him at that as well as a few of the other NSW boys who are in the picture.”

Meninga met with newly-appointed selectors Bob Fulton and Darren Lockyer for their first selection meeting last week, with plenty of debate about the outside backs and back row.

Injuries to mainstays Billy Slater, Will Chambers and Aaron Woods have disrupted the line-up.

“From our perspective there won’t be too many changes to the team, considering who the top teams are. But there is some talk around outside backs and obviously back row,” Meninga said.

Greg Inglis is likely to decide whether he wants to fill in at fullback, while Meninga conceded he had to choose between a left side combination of Johnathan Thurston, Inglis and Darius Boyd, or Parramatta pair Michael Jennings and Semi Radradra.

Josh Dugan is likely to be named at right centre.

“But, as things happen, someone like Will Chambers hurt himself (last week). Things change pretty quickly, so we’ve just got to wait and see what happens over the next few weeks,” Meninga said.

The Kangaroos host world No.1 New Zealand in Newcastle on May 6 in what will be their first Test since losing to the Kiwis in the annual mid-year fixture last year.