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NRL star Jennings adds steel to his speed

Michael Jennings had to show a stiff upper lip at last year's World Cup after being ignored by Kangaroos coach Tim Sheens, but the Sydney Roosters star believes the experience will be the making of him as a representative force.
NRL star Jennings adds steel to his speed
by AAP

By Ben Horne

SYDNEY, March 2 AAP - Michael Jennings had to show a stiff upper lip at last year's World Cup after being ignored by Kangaroos coach Tim Sheens, but the Sydney Roosters star believes the experience will be the making of him as a representative force.

Jennings' hoped his breakout season last year and his scintillating performance in the Roosters' grand final triumph would be enough to earn him first crack at centre for a Kangaroos side missing Justin Hodges.

But instead, Sheens turned to 31-year-old veteran Brent Tate.

Jennings scored a try in his only appearance against Fiji, but otherwise found himself on the outer as Tate and winger/fullback Jarryd Hayne were preferred for the big matches on the road to Cup glory.

Try-scoring specialist Jennings was frustrated, having made strong headway for NSW over the past two seasons.

But he learned an important lesson that Kangaroos jumpers aren't handed out to one-hit wonders.

Tate might not have Jennings' pace, but he's battled through horrific injury setbacks to remain one of the NRL's toughest and most consistent performers.

Hayne too has served an often demoralising apprenticeship in rep footy, despite his undisputed ability.

In a significant boost for the Roosters hopes of going back-to-back and NSW's attempts to break their State of Origin hoodoo, Jennings now understands what's required to go to the next level.

"It was frustrating at times but I looked at it and said there's something better I need to do to really cement a spot and get an opportunity there," Jennings told AAP.

"My main focus is just to train harder and hopefully luck comes my way and I get the opportunity to represent Australia again and perform at that level.

"With a bit of consistency, hopefully they won't look past me next time.

"There were quality players in that side who were obviously shining more and had been there longer.

"I played one game and it made me more hungry. I was grateful I was over there, I can't really complain about it."

Jennings scored 17 tries last season and started 2014 in similar fashion, scoring a hat-trick against Wigan in the World Club Challenge.


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