Josh Mansour’s rise into first grade has been a little more unorthodox than most. Although now six games into what is shaping as an impressive career, the St George junior remains somewhat of a rugby league enigma. Mansour spoke with Michael Carayannis about his rise into the NRL.
OVERLOOKED for selection in Canterbury’s junior representative system, Josh Mansour made the switch to play for Kingsgrove Colts in St George Junior Rugby League.
While at the Colts, Mansour, 22, played in a losing under-18s grand final but did not do enough to impress St George selectors.
An open trial at North Sydney led to him being picked by their affiliate South Sydney where he enjoyed a successful two-year stint in the under-20s.
But he switched to Penrith on a two-year deal this season after being unable to secure a start in the NRL.
‘‘When I first got here I didn’t really know anyone,’’ Mansour said.
‘‘From the first day I introduced myself and I knew I couldn’t be shy so I walked around and got to know everyone.
‘‘It’s good to have teammates support you and give you confidence.’’
Mansour has been a revelation for a struggling Panthers side since making his NRL debut against Melbourne in round nine.
He has played four more games including a golden-point victory against St George Illawarra.
‘‘I freaked out when they told me I was playing against Melbourne,’’ Mansour said.
‘‘I was more excited than anything and I waited so long. I wasn’t nervous at all. I was just so excited to play and put on the jumper.’’
A late bloomer in a sport which fast-tracks its stars, Mansour didn’t make any representative sides while at school at Holy Spirit College, Lakemba.
It wasn’t until impressive performances for South Sydney that saw him selected in the under-20s team of the year and Junior Kangaroos.
Mansour travels to training from the Earlwood home he shares with parents Angie and Fidel who he introduced to the sport.
With a Portuguese and Lebanese background, Mansour’s family enjoyed him playing the other football code as a youngster.
‘‘When I broke the news to my parents that I wanted to play rugby league they were devastated,’’ Mansour said.
‘‘I was doing quite well at soccer but I got sick of it and rugby league grew on me.
‘‘Now they are over the moon and I’m really grateful to have the parents I do.’’
The winger made his comeback from a back injury in Penrith’s 38-12 loss against South Sydney on Sunday.