Vibrant Penrith centre Jamal Idris has credited his mother with his return to form following a man of the match performance for Country against City that thrust him back into the NSW State of Origin frame.
Idris' mother, Alana, is one of the most important figures in his life. The Forster junior is a happy man having his mum back around after returning to Sydney following a two-season stint up on the Gold Coast – and his great showing at Dubbo's Caltex Park on Sunday showed the positive impact.
"I think if you're happy off the field, you're going to play your best footy on the field. You don't go into the game stressed, you don't carry all this tension and it's been awesome," Idris said, with his mother having also overcome illness.
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"I now know my mum's doing well, I know my mum's doing fine and I don't have it in the back of my head like, 'What's going on?' When I'm stressed as well she's there to calm me down."
With City-Country now complete, naturally the next step for Idris is State of Origin. Yet after a Country performance that saw the behemoth 23-year-old regularly bust free of defenders, run 103 metres and make 14 tackles, Idris – whose sole appearance for NSW came in 2010 – is taking it one game at a time.
"It's only my eighth game back in 10 months, so I'm just trying to get back into the groove of things. It was good to be back out there on the right side of the field as well and I just felt comfortable," Idris said.
"People are always going to say what they're going to say. I'll take it one game at a time."
Country origin coach and Penrith Panthers assistant coach Trent Barrett can't think of a reason as to why NSW coach Laurie Daley wouldn't pick Idris to take on Queensland in the coming weeks – regardless of the centre's fitness concerns, of which Barrett laughed: "He gets away with it".
"He's a powerhouse when his mind is on the job. Defensively he was terrific and he just showed what he can do with the football," Barrett said.
"You have [Josh] Morris and ]Michael] Jennings there but he'll do a job for you. He can play back-row, he can play anywhere. His best footy is in front of him but he showed what he can do.
"I still think he's best footy is a month away [though]. There's still a hell of a lot of improvement still in Jamal. He had a late start to the off-season and it's only Round 9, so it's a long season and we won't see the absolute best of him until Origin II or III."
For Idris though, who missed the final 10 weeks of the season after breaking his leg playing for the Titans in Round 16 last year, the reality is that he wants to make sure he's 100 per cent to play before he gives himself another shot in the Origin arena.
"[Origin's] the pinnacle – it's where you want to be. You want to play against the best and you want to test yourself. In saying that, I want to be ready when I do play," Idris said.
"I'm getting better. When I first had my first few games back I was blowing – I was in all sorts but I'm getting fitter and fitter every week and my best football is ahead of me."