GI and Cordner battle for Roos armband
GREG Inglis and Boyd Cordner are on a collision course for the Kangaroos captaincy, with Saturday's Roosters-Rabbitohs blockbuster doubling as an audition to replace Cameron Smith.
Rabbitohs skipper Inglis and Roosters rival Cordner will lock horns at Allianz Stadium with a spot in Sunday week's NRL grand final not the only carrot dangling.
Inglis and Cordner went toe-to-toe as captains in the State of Origin arena this year as the NSW Blues ended Queensland's three-year winning streak in Inglis' first year in charge.
The Kangaroos are on the hunt for a new skipper following Smith's decision to retire from representative football on the eve of this year's Origin series.
Cordner, 26, has captained NSW for the past two years and now has 16 Test matches under his belt after playing in Australia's victorious World Cup team last year.
Inglis, 31, made the last of his 39 Test appearances nearly two years ago after missing all but Round 1 of the 2017 season with a knee injury.
Kangaroos selector Darren Lockyer captained Australia a record 38 times and told The Courier-Mail the preliminary final would play a part in deciding who replaces Smith for the season-ending Tests against New Zealand and Tonga.
"They are the first two that come to mind and we haven't really discussed the captaincy yet," he said.
"We are week-by-week trying to shape the 17 and then there will be a discussion around the captain once we settle on the team.
"There's no doubt that the team that goes through to the grand final, the player out of those two will have another seven or eight days to press their case.
"The one that bows out loses that week of airtime.
"I'm not saying that's going to decide who the captain is, but the person that goes onto the grand final, it's only going to enhance their credentials as potential captain."
Provided he remains fit, Inglis will return to the Test arena for the first time since the 2016 Four Nations when the Kangaroos clash with the Kiwis in Auckland on October 13.
The Kangaroos will remain in New Zealand to face rising Tonga on October 20.
Inglis showcased his representative captaincy credentials with stirring performances despite Queensland losing the first two games of the Origin series.
He suffered a thumb injury and missed the third game, but his return for South Sydney has catapulted the Rabbitohs into the final four of the competition.
Despite being out of the Kangaroos jersey since November 2016, Lockyer said Inglis was an automatic selection.
"He's at that level isn't he?" Lockyer said. "If he's fit he's there. He is left centre.
"He is a bit like Mal (Meninga, coach) in that regard. He is that big presence out in the centres, regardless of whether he's piling on points with tries, it's about having his presence there.
"He tried to lift Souths late the other night (against the Dragons) with some defensive efforts. He came from the left side of the field to make a couple of big tackles.
"He knows when to inject himself and leads with his physicality. He doesn't have to say a lot."
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