Meninga gives Origin hope to Barba, Taylor

Ben Barba. Photo / Getty Images
Ben Barba. Photo / Getty Images

Queensland coach Mal Meninga has offered game breakers Ben Barba and Dave Taylor some State of Origin hope after both have endured a difficult start to the NRL season.

Reigning Dally M player of the year Barba missed the Bulldogs' first three games when he was suspended by the club after they were informed of a number of behavioural issues affecting the brilliant fullback.

Giant Gold Coast forward Taylor was listed to play for Tweed Heads against Easts Tigers on Sunday after being given a two-week ban by Gold Coast for disciplinary reasons.

It is a stunning fall from grace for Taylor, who made his Test debut this time last year and has made six Origin appearances.

"Arthur Beetson was picked from reserve grade playing for Parramatta in the first (Origin) game ever, so whilst you're playing there's always hope," Meninga told Channel Nine on Sunday.

"Dave is a tremendous talent. I just want to see him playing, doing the right thing, making the right choices.

"I think he's smart enough to understand he's made a mistake, just get on with life and he's not out of the picture."

There was a similarly optimistic message to Barba, who has played three matches since returning to action but has yet to earn an Origin jersey.

"He's playing well, that's what I want to see from players outside the team," Meninga said.

"You want them playing that well that it puts so much pressure on our selection process that they sort of pick themselves.

"Ben is in the mix. We know how talented he is and he can be a very dangerous player for us, if he's playing in Origin."

Barba's Bulldogs teammate Josh Reynolds said the fullback had definitely moved on from the problems he had earlier in the year.

"People says he doesn't look happy. Who is going to be happy when we're losing games?" Reynolds told MMM radio in Sydney.

"That's the only time people really see him. People don't see him outside of footy, like the way we see him.

"He's coming to training with a really good positive attitude."

Queensland stalwart Greg Inglis, one of the players potentially blocking Barba's path to an Origin jersey, is expected to be fit to face Manly next Friday.

Inglis reaggravated an old hip injury in last Friday's Test against New Zealand but Souths officials are optimistic he will recover in time for the Brookvale Oval clash.

- AAP

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