NSW fullback James Tedesco has boosted his World Cup hopes while Manly flyer Tom Trbojevic looms as a Kangaroos bolter after both scored hat-tricks in the PM’s XIII win in Port Moresby.
The Mal Meninga-coached side had to work hard to overcome a spirited Papua New Guinea PM’s XIII 48-8 on Saturday afternoon but the class of Tedesco and Trbojevic shone through.
Meninga shuffled his players around with Sydney Roosters-bound Tedesco spending time at fullback, wing and centre.
“I thought he handled centre and wing really well,” Meninga said after the match.
“Versatility is very important when you go into a World Cup campaign where you play a number of games so the ability to play a number of positions is important”.
Tedesco was one of the Blues’ best in their failed Origin campaign, but is mounting a strong case for inclusion with the Kangaroos who already face a tough choice between incumbent Darius Boyd and the rejuvenated Billy Slater.
The 24-year-old could also be considered on the wing or in the centres alongside Dane Gagai, Blake Ferguson, Josh Dugan, Valentine Holmes or Will Chambers.
“We’re in an envious position, in all positions we go deep,” Meninga said.
World Cup honours would cap a remarkable 2017 for Tedesco who won the Rugby League Players Association player of the year award ahead of Kangaroos skipper Cameron Smith.
Trbojevic, playing his first game in the green and gold, continued the rich vein of form that saw him set to earn an Origin debut before a knee injury ruled him out of the opening game of the series.
The 20-year-old impressed Meninga with his aerial skills and easy running style.
“Tom’s a freak, he just keeps getting better as he plays more games,” the coach said.
“Form is a key issue, but past performance is good too so it’s a dilemma for us but I’m sure we’ll come up with the right balance”.