SUPERB NRL form has not convinced former Kangaroos forward Corey Parker that Canberra centre Joey Leilua should be considered for next month’s trans-Tasman Test.
Kangaroos coach Mal Meninga claimed Leilua was “in the mix” for the Test centre vacancy created by Greg Inglis’ knee injury ahead of the May 5 clash with New Zealand in Canberra.
The scoring machine averages 114m a game and has crossed for six tries in seven games, helping the Raiders move to fifth on the NRL ladder with three straight wins.
He was again impressive in a two-try display in Canberra’s last round 20-8 win over the Warriors, prompting the Raiders’ England international Eliott Whitehead to claim Leilua “wasn’t far” from a Test call-up.
However, Parker was not yet convinced.
“As devastating a ball runner as BJ is, I don’t think he is the green and gold centre just yet,” Parker told Fox Sports’ On The Couch program.
“In that team he would go okay because of the players around him. “But I just think there are better players in that position.”
Former Cronulla rake Michael Ennis believed Sharks star Jack Bird should be slotted into the Kangaroos backline vacancy, even at the expense of incumbent Test centre Josh Dugan.
“People will probably take it as bias but I believe Jack Bird is the best right centre in the game at the moment,” he told On The Couch.
“If we are picking it on form I think he should be there.” Meanwhile, Ennis also backed Andrew Fifita to end his time in the representative wilderness in the May Test.
Fifita was overlooked by Kangaroos coach Mal Meninga for last year’s Four Nations campaign after off-field issues despite his 2016 NRL grand final heroics for Cronulla.
He has picked up where he left off for the defending champions this season, sparking speculation he will fill the void created by Test prop Matt Scott’s season ending knee injury.
Leilua double in Raiders win1:40
NRL: Joey Leilua presses his case for Origin selection after scoring a double against the Warriors in round 7.
“Personally I know he has done a lot of work off the field to address the issues that caused him trouble last year and his form this year has shown that,” Ennis said of Fifita.
“He can do on the football field what few front rowers can do.”
Former Test forward Steve Roach said Fifita had “done his penance” by missing the triumphant Four Nations tour but believed time was against the Sharks wrecking ball to play the May Test.
Roach said the short Test preparation should ensure Meninga avoids blooding new faces against New Zealand and sticks with forwards that featured in the Four Nations squad.
“I think he has done his penance. But if you look at the front rowers who went on the tour last year — Shannon Boyd, David Klemmer — I reckon Mal will go with those guys because of that short turnaround,” he said.
Originally published as Raiders gun Leilua not Test ready: Parker
SOURCE: newsnow sport