Papalii has impressed to the point where he is in contention for a finals spot

26 November 2013 1:03 PM

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Papalii has impressed to the point where he is in contention for a finals spot

Brent Tate remains hopeful of playing against New Zealand in the decider and he spoke to Fox Sports rugby league correspondent Steve Hart in Manchester.

On Josh Papalii's first night on this Kangaroo tour he got robbed in Manchester - but the 21-year-old might be heading for a dream finish at Old Trafford with a spot on the bench for the World Cup final within his grasp.

Papalii is the second youngest player on tour behind Boyd Cordner with only a month separating the young stars who have both had phenomenal years which included making their State of Origin debuts followed by their shock Kangaroo call up.

But Papalii has impressed coach Tim Sheens to the point where he is now right in contention for a spot in the top 17 for the final to be played in front of what could be a record rugby league Test match crowd a the home of Manchester United.

Luke Lewis' injury has opened up a door for the young Canberra enforcer who Sheens sees as a perfect fit to play off the bench given Papalii could fill in at front-row, back-row and even at centre.

Papalii admits it has been a dream season and even if he doesn't get a call up for the final he believes this tour has made him come of age - and he can't wait to take what he has learned back to Canberra.

"I will take the experience and the confidence back to Canberra definitely," he said.

"It has been a year to remember. I have made a few debuts and hopefully not the last.

"I have had a bit of a problem with my consistency but being here helps you realise that you have to be up all the time."

At the start of the tour you were flat out getting a word out of the quietly spoken Papalii but his confidence has definitely improved.

He has spent the seven weeks rooming with Cowboys co-captain Matt Scott and Papalii says the experience has definitely changed him.

"I have been rooming with big Bumper, Matty Scott, and he really looks after me.

"But I am always going around with all the other boys too. Everyone sticks together."

Like Brent Tate, Papalii's spot in the squad could be riding on Billy Slater's fitness.

If Slater is passed fit on Thursday it will be probably come down to a shootout for the bench spot between Tate and Papalii given Andrew Fifita, Daly Cherry-Evans and Corey Parker appear certainties.

Sheens won't name his team until Thursday at which stage he will know if Slater is in or out.

"Sheensie will name the team but if I don't get picked I'm still happy," Papalii said.


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