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2 days ago
Andrew Johns could be rushed into the Australian team for this year's Tri-Nations Test series if he can make it back onto the field for the National Rugby League finals.
Kangaroos coach Wayne Bennett indicated that if Johns - recognised as the world's best player before he was sidelined in March with a season-ending knee injury - was fit, he would be back in the green and gold at the end of the year.
He even suggested the halfback could be given some leeway, saying he would take into account what he thought Johns was capable of doing when the Tri-Nations kicks off on October 16.
"If he's back playing football, everybody is in contention," Bennett told League Correspondent on a lightning visit to London to launch the Test series.
"It's a pretty easy decision to make.
"If he's playing like everybody else, he's available for selection, you judge him on what he's doing, what you think he can does that we'll ask the next question."
Johns is hoping for an early comeback from reconstructive knee surgery in time to lead the Knights into the finals if they make the top eight.
He only recently had a ankle-to-thigh brace removed from his leg and has begun a recovery program.
Bennett, meanwhile, flew 17,000 kilometres to prove he was a passionate advocate of international rugby league by attending the launch of the Tri-Nations series.
He left Brisbane on Sunday night, arrived in London late Monday - in time to oversee a London Broncos' training session - and will head home on Thursday.
Bennett said he felt it was necessary for him to be there to show he was dedicated to keeping international league alive because Test matches would be a thing of the past if Australia failed to nurture the game overseas.
He said as a young boy he always dreamed of playing for Australia and wanted to resurrect the great rivalry with Great Britain before the game was lost to Europe. "Australians love the contest between Great Britain and Australia still, it's what all of us were brought up on, it's a part of our life," Bennett said.
"If we don't do things to keep developing them, we won't be playing anybody in 10 years' time.
"We used to be able to play France 20 years ago, 30 years ago, in Test matches and they beat us on occasions.
"Thirty years on, because we've done nothing in France, we've allowed it to slip away and we don't have anyone to play anymore."
Australia will battle the Kiwis in the first Tri-Nations Test on October 16 at a venue to be determined in Australia or New Zealand.
Both teams then head to London where they meet for the second time on October 23.
Australia faces Great Britain in Manchester on October 30 and at Wigan on November 13.
The Tri-Nations final will be held in Leeds on Saturday, November 27.