Kangaroos winger Dane Gagai has revealed that Greg Inglis phoned him to congratulate the 27-year-old South Sydney star on taking his place in the Australian squad after he was dumped in the wake of a drink-driving charge.
Gagai, who played in last year's World Cup winning team, was initially overlooked for the new look Kangaroos squad, which was to be captained by Inglis but he received a late call-up when his Rabbitohs team-mate was banned from the Tests against New Zealand and Tonga.
After receiving the recall, Gagai immediately reached out to Inglis to check how he was feeling before receiving a call from his South Sydney captain. Inglis had just lost the chance to captain Australia after being found to be over the limit after attending the Koori Knockout in Dubbo.
"To get called back into the team was obviously great, [but] not at the expense of a good mate of mine and our captain at Souths, with Greg and what happened there," Gagai said.
"Firstly, I obviously [wanted to know] if he was OK. He gave me a call and congratulated me on getting back into the side. I'm sure he's disappointed, but I know he'll be right to go again next year."
Inglis was one of the main reasons Gagai joined Souths from Newcastle this year and the Queensland Origin representative said he had benefitted from playing alongside the 31-year-old superstar.
''He's a freak athlete, but it comes down to hard work," Gagai said. "People think he's a naturally-gifted player, and that's what he is, but he's also a hard worker.
"All through the pre-season after he injured his knee, he was in at training 6am every morning and doing all the things he needed to do to get back on the field and play in round one, and he did that."
Gagai is focused on helping the team bounce back from last weekend's 26-24 loss to New Zealand by beating Tonga.
Gagai scored a try just seconds before halftime to give Australia a 12-8 lead but the Kangaroos tired in the second half after having just 39 per cent of possession in the opening 40 minutes.
"I got given an opportunity to represent my country again and will do it the best I can," he said.
"I'm here and I've got a job to do, and I'm not worried about how I made the side or anything like that. My mindset is I don't want to let the boys down.
"It was funny, a few of the senior boys told me when I first came into rep footy, 'treat every game like it's your last because you never know when it could be', and that's all I'm doing, I'm enjoying my time back in the green and gold.
"Unfortunately we didn't get the win Saturday, but we have the chance to make up for it this weekend."