Under pressure ... Kangaroos coach Tim Sheens. Photo: Supplied
KANGAROOS coach Tim Sheens is yet to formally reject a job at Wests Tigers next year - but his players in the national team have spoken about helping him avoid the rare distinction of being sacked twice in one year.
After being shown the door as head coach of the joint venture for next season, Sheens has been offered an undefined alternative position that would help the club avoid a payout estimated by some as up to $1 million. Last night, Wests Tigers chief executive Stephen Humphreys told the Herald there had been no response from Sheens ''at this stage''.
''Tim is obviously focused on the Kangaroos this week,'' Humphreys said through a text message.
Sheens's appointment with the national side is on a year-to-year basis. Australia prop David Shillington said the coach had spoken during a team meeting about everyone involved in the squad helping their 2013 World Cup chances with a strong performance against New Zealand at Dairy Farmers Stadium on Saturday.
''Tim mentioned it yesterday, saying we want to use this as a lead-in to the World Cup,'' Canberra's Shillington said after a weights session at Townsville Sports Reserve. ''Hopefully we can win, have a bit of success now and in the Anzac Test next year and he keeps the same squad, we can keep him as coach.
''And then leading into the World Cup, we don't make too many changes, there's plenty of fluency in the team and we all play off the bat straight away.''
Shillington said it would be an advantage if Sheens were retained.
''Yesterday, because it's a similar team, I don't think we dropped a ball the whole session and all the plays we did were perfect,'' he said. ''We didn't need to sit down or learn anything. It's a huge advantage if we can do that.
''We've lost a Four Nations and a World Cup in the last four or five years so we want to win them back.
''We've had [Sheens] for the last four years, the whole four years that I've played. It would be nice to keep him as coach. We've had good success with him but there's still room for improvement.''
The green and golds have dismissed any doubt over the fitness of fullback Billy Slater. The Kiwis have arrived in Cairns, where they will prepare until tomorrow, with Krisnan Inu, Sam Perrett and Greg Eastwood available to the media yesterday. Eastwood refused to talk about the Bulldogs' Mad Monday controversy.
Meanwhile, fellow Kangaroos prop Matt Scott could never have imagined that when he was involved in the decision to drop North Queensland clubmate James Tamou for staying out in Townsville too late, it would help provide him with an Australian teammate for a Test just down the road 18 months later.
''I thought I'd get a Kiwi bloke to play against,'' Scott joked yesterday after a weights session before Saturday's trans-Tasman Test at Dairy Farmers Stadium.
''At that stage, he hadn't announced who he was playing for. I'm very happy he went with us. I think everybody knew that Jimmy had it in him. There's no doubt that he's got a wealth of talent. You've just got to look at the bloke. He's an impressive sight.''
New Zealand-born Tamou, who controversially chose the green and gold in April, has cited his punishment from the senior players' group for breaking curfew at the Mad Cow Tavern 18 months ago as a turning point in his career.
''Definitely after that, it was a bit of an eye-opener, and he really got his life sorted outside of football. Everyone can see the benefits of that this year,'' Scott said.