Penrith star Josh Mansour is confident of replicating surge into a Kangaroos jumper and quickly find the form to help push the Panthers into this year’s NRL finals.
For the second season in a row, Mansour has been forced to overcome a serious injury after suffering multiple facial fractures that had sidelined him since mid-April.
And while the Panthers winger made a successful return in last week’s heavy loss to Brisbane, he insists he can reach peak form over the final six games prior to the finals.
“I’ve always been confident in my own ability. I’m not going to just drop my head because I’ve been out injured for a period of time,” Mansour said.
“I know what I can do and what I can provide for the team.”
Mansour has some recent experience in coming back from a long-term injury.
The 28-year-old missed the opening 12 matches last season due to an ACL tear while playing for Australia in the Four Nations the previous summer.
But he not only returned to play his role in the Panthers’ semi-final finish, but he also won a spot in the Kangaroos’ triumphant World Cup squad.
“Last year I got a bit of practice with it. I came back halfway through the season and I knew the rollercoaster of emotions I was going to go through and that helped in this process,” he said.
“I can set a foundation with my match fitness now, with five-six more games left. Hopefully I can just keep playing good footy right into the finals with some form.”
Prior to his recent injury, Mansour had been a target for a number of NRL clubs willing to shell out big money to lure the tackle-busting winger from the foot of the Blue Mountains.
But the former NSW State of Origin representative instead opted to remain at the club that pried him from South Sydney five years ago to give him his first crack in the NRL.
He penned a three-year extension with the Panthers that will take him to 31 years of age, possibly paving the way for him to finish as a rare one-club player.
“It’s hard to achieve in modern day football. Today it’s a business. If I can finish my career here, it’d definitely be outstanding,” he said.
“It was always in my heart to stay at this club. I love it here. Penrith have been very kind to me and my family and definitely shaped me into the person I am today.
“I couldn’t see myself running around in any other jerseys.”