He was dropped from the Australian Test side and his club is languishing on the bottom of the NRL ladder, but Tom Learoyd-Lahrs has vowed to use the setbacks as the catalyst to turn his season around.
By his own admission the Raiders prop has been struggling in 2011, but he sees the City-Country game as the perfect stage to rediscover the rampaging form that took him to four Test and NSW jumpers.
“Once you have played at that level, it is a pretty bitter feeling having lost my Test jumper,” Learoyd-Lahrs told NRL.com.
“You can never take it for granted and it just fuels your fire and makes you hungrier. I really want to reclaim that jumper and I’ll be trying my hardest to do that starting this Friday.
“Without beating myself up, my form is not where I need it to be. I know I can play a lot better than I have been. I don’t put it down to effort; I’ve been trying my hardest and my attitude has been good, I think I need to simplify things and go back to the basics.
“I know what I’m capable of as a player and what it takes to make it at rep level, and it is frustrating when you don’t live up to those standards.”
While disappointed to lose his prized green and gold jumper, Learoyd-Lahrs is legitimately pleased to be a part of Country Origin.
It meant a lot to him last year when he made his debut for Country in Port Macquarie and being a part of the team still means a lot to him now.
There is an underlying conviction in the representative forward’s words that speaks volumes.
“When you have a good game in a game like this it can really spur you on; Friday can’t come quick enough,” he said.
“You have to cherish these jerseys and there is a fair bit of prestige around this Country jumper. All these boys grew up in country areas and country rugby league has done a lot for us and this is a great opportunity to give something back to the system.
“There is a lot of responsibility on our shoulders to give a good showing. Obviously there is a lot riding on it individually with positions vacant in the NSW team, but I guess more importantly everyone wants to represent the Country jumper with pride.”
With NSW coach Ricky Stuart’s words still ringing in the minds of the players, the game on Friday night shapes as a genuine trial for NSW jumpers.
And Learoyd-Lahrs is desperate to be part of the Blues campaign that finally puts an end to Queensland’s five series dominance.
“You don’t need any more motivation with the NSW jumper up for grabs,” he said.
“I’ve been a part of those last couple of series losses. It would be great to be a part of history and stopping their streak, I’d love to be a part of that.
“I see it as a great opportunity to be involved with the team that finally stops Queensland.”
That mission starts on Friday in Albury, when two teams and 34 motivated players collide in an audition for the sky blue jersey.
“There is a lot at stake, it’s an opportunity especially for a lot of young guys in their first rep jersey to show that they are up to that next level,” Learoyd-Lahrs said.
“You don’t often get to see NRL games living in the country - the odd trial game maybe - but this is a great chance for the people of the area to get out and see a high quality game of football live in the flesh.
“A rep fixture in the bush is a great concept and I hope it stays around.”