Green backs McLean for Kangaroos call-up
COWBOYS coach Paul Green believes towering prop Jordan McLean has done enough to retain his Kangaroos jersey despite missing the bulk of their NRL campaign with a foot injury.
McLean arrived in Townsville on a high this season after winning a premiership with the Storm and making his debut for Australia in last year's World Cup triumph.
But things didn't go according to plan for the 26-year-old after he was sidelined for four months with a Lisfranc injury at a time when the Cowboys were still a chance for the finals.
McLean returned to action against the Knights in Round 20 and had an immediate impact, running for 139m per game as the Cowboys won four of their last six matches.
Green was quick to praise McLean's role in North Queensland's late-season revival, saying he'd helped bring out the best in fellow representative forwards Matt Scott and Jason Taumalolo.
Australia will take on the Kiwis in Auckland on October 13 with a historic Test against Tonga also likely for the following week and Green felt McLean's good form warranted another Test jumper.
"I'd be surprised if Jordan McLean didn't get a call-up. He's been really good for us," Green said.
"He's just really led the way through the middle there and made it easier for Jase in particular and then Matt Scott came back too and played some great footy for us.
"They really laid a good platform for us and we capitalised when they were going forward."
The Cowboys were rooted at the bottom of the ladder with two games left to play, but impressive victories over the Eels and Titans saw them finish two wins clear of the dreaded wooden spoon.
It was only a small consolation for a side rated as premiership favourites in the preseason, but Green felt the Cowboys could use that momentum to ensure they make a strong return to the finals next year.
"I thought we played our most consistent footy towards the back end," Green said.
"We had some really good wins there, some real character defining wins, but also we matched it with some of the better teams in the comp too.
"I think you can (take that momentum). Certainly some of the experience we gave to the younger guys is going to help them.
"I think it just gives you that motivation to make sure that we start like that."