Canberra Raiders player Josh Papalii on Thursday. Photo: Peter Rae
Canberra coach Ricky Stuart says back-rower Josh Papalii can follow Paul Gallen's lead and return from the World Cup a better player, while Stuart has credited Raiders skipper Terry Campese for his decision to stand down from the game's showcase event.
Gallen and Papalii were involved in a public feud during last year's finals series, when Gallen accused the Raiders back-rower of a ''dog shot'' after Papalii targeted the NSW Origin skipper in a dominant performance.
That feud was superseded by the battle between Gallen and Nate Myles, Gallen suspended a match for unleashing a combination of punches on Myles in this year's State-of-Origin opener.
The Australian World Cup squad assembled in Sydney on Thursday, Gallen claiming he'd already smoothed things over with Myles at the recent Dally M Awards.
Stuart, who coached Gallen at Cronulla and NSW Origin, was convinced Test debutant Papalii would also benefit from getting to know Gallen on the World Cup tour.
''They'll be good as gold,'' Stuart said. ''I think Gal will be really good for Josh. You follow
his lead in the way he trains, plays and prepares, he's very much a team person.
''It's a credit to Josh, he's still so young in his career. It's different when you're an outside back, but when you're in the middle or on the edge playing second-row and getting there so early, it's a big tick.''
Gallen on Thursday attempted to dispel any speculation of a rift between NSW and Queensland Origin players in the Australian team, particularly with Myles.
''We understand what it's like out there on the field and what happens out there stays out there,'' Gallen told Sky Sports Radio. ''He's a good guy Nate … we're playing for Australia and we're one side now and there's absolutely no drama there at all.''
Kangaroos assistant coach David Furner, who was coaching Canberra and gave Papalii the job of targeting Gallen in last year's finals series, said team harmony would not be a problem.
''I've never seen the so-called rift between the two states,'' Furner said. ''They're there to do a job, they're professional. I don't think it needs to be addressed. It happened on the field and, being professional, they won't take it off the field.''
Furner was one of the mentors Papalii confided in before controversially switching his allegiance from New Zealand to Queensland and Australia late last year.
Papalii had been eligible to represent Australia, New Zealand and Samoa, but Furner said he was ''proud'' to reunite with the 21-year-old at the World Cup.
''He confided in blokes like Ruben Wiki, Mal Meninga, myself and - most importantly - his family. We've seen in the past where players have jumped between countries, but he's actually given it good thought and it's paid off.
''This is big for a 21-year-old … but he's always been a mature player, regardless of his age. You can tell the players who will step up to the extra level.''
Meanwhile, Campese denied incoming Raiders coach Stuart had pressured him to stand down from the Italian World Cup team because of ongoing concerns for his knees. Italy was seething and blamed Stuart for Campese's late withdrawal.
''It's my decision no one else's,'' Campese wrote in a text. ''I spoke to the [Raiders] medical staff and the best thing for me is to sit out, so that's why I pulled out.''
Stuart said he'd left the decision to Campese, but applauded the skipper's ultimate decision. ''Terry was the one who made the decision,'' Stuart said. ''I thought it was a really good call. He put the club before his own rewards.''