Napa grateful for rep resurrection
Banished from Origin contention for 12 months for breaking curfew while in the Maroons' Emerging Origin camp in February, Roosters firebrand Dylan Napa insists he has learned from his mistakes following his selection in the Prime Minister's XIII.
Napa flew out on Thursday for his second trip to Papua New Guinea as a member of Mal Meninga's PM's XIII squad intent on pushing his claims for inclusion in the 24-man Kangaroos squad to travel to England for the Four Nations tournament.
The 23-year-old, who represented the Cook Islands in the 2013 Rugby League World Cup, was one of eight Queensland Origin hopefuls issued with 12-month Origin bans by Maroons coach Kevin Walters, with Napa's involvement even more mystifying given it came only a week after teammate Mitchell Pearce's off-field indiscretion.
But Napa and Pearce have both earned representative recalls for Saturday's clash with the PNG Prime Minister's XIII and the hard-hitting prop has vowed to do the jersey proud.
"There was no secret how disappointed I was and I had no one else to blame but myself," Napa said of his Origin ban.
"I feel like I've learnt from that mistake and to put myself back in a position to be selected is something I'm very proud of.
"It's one of those games where you're putting on the green and gold so it's a very proud moment.
"I'm very honoured to be picked in this team. It's a star-studded team and any chance I get to put on a representative jersey I'll take it with both hands."
Napa, Matt Moylan and Aaron Woods were all members of the PM's XIII that played in PNG in 2014 but this year Meninga has named an 18-man squad littered with Test and Origin representatives.
More than being a genuine selection trial for the upcoming Four Nations tournament, Meninga is casting his eye ahead to the 2017 Rugby League World Cup and Napa is determined to put himself in the frame for selection.
"That's another motivating factor. He's been pretty open about the fact that it's a trial for the Four Nations team at the end of the year which is obviously a goal of mine and the rest of the team," said Napa, who played all but one match in the Roosters' disappointing 2016 campaign.
"I think they're going to have a fair idea of who is going on the tour and who will be first picked but it's up for grabs.
"He's pretty open about it being a trial and everyone's going to be doing everything right to get picked at the end of the year in that squad.
"The hard work starts on Saturday against the Kumuls and I can't wait."
Napa was just 21 when he made his first trip to PNG as a member of the PM's XIII and remembers it being a very touching experience.
"We went to a school visit and the kids were so happy to see the team," he recalled.
"It was only a little thing but they like touching. They like to go up and touch. They don't want autographs or that, they just want to touch you and it's a pretty humbling experience.
"It's a pretty crazy crowd over there and they certainly love their football. It's their national sport so you can only imagine how much they get into it.
"As soon as you catch the ball there is three or four of them surrounding you ready to take your head off.
"It's no surprise what the PNG side plays like, they're a very physical team but they've been developing pretty well over the last couple of years going into the Queensland Cup.
"They're developing very well and I'm sure they're going to be a much more well-rounded team."
This article first appeared on NRL.COM