Broncos prop dismisses Origin talk
Front-rowers scoring tries are a rare event, but when they do cross the stripe, as we saw last weekend when Tigers' prop Aaron Woods and Brisbane's Josh McGuire crashed over, it can provide a massive swell of support from the stands.
So when McGuire swooped on a spilt bomb like a seagull on a hot chip, proceeding to gallop barely 10 metres as he landed his bulky body behind the try-line like a Boeing 747 that was met with rapturous applause by a pulsating Suncorp Stadium crowd, the Broncos' battering ram knew the job against the Eels was far from over.
Victory wasn't to be for McGuire as he crossed for only the fifth try of his 93-game NRL career that has seen the 24-year-old touted as a potential Origin player for Queensland since 2012.
Despite feelings of euphoria surrounding the scoring of a rare four-pointer coupled with constant murmurings that the Aspley junior is destined for a Maroons jumper in the near future, the softly-spoken prop is firmly focused on delivering for the Broncos, shelving any talk of impending representative honours.
"Look honestly, I don’t let it get into my head at all. I just take it as it comes with my footy and I try to give 100 per cent to stay in this team," McGuire told NRL.com.
"It's very competitive at the moment with our forward pack. Guys like Benny Hannant, Martin Kennedy, Corey Parker – all guys that are capable of playing anywhere at any club.
"So it's a tough enough battle just trying to keep your [starting] spot here so I really haven’t thought about rep footy."
McGuire's name has been tossed up by Queensland selectors for a number of years now after first being named in the Maroons' Emerging Origin squad in 2012. An unfortunate calf injury sustained in Round 2 against the Dragons last season quashed the dreams of the 180-centimetre, 106-kilogram unit for 2013, forcing him to miss four rounds of action and therefore hindering his chances of pressing for selection.
The big burly prop has a battle on his hands to sneak into a settled Queensland side again this season, with the Maroons side remaining unchanged for games two and three of last year's Series. McGuire's best prospects for an Origin call-up lie on the interchange bench, although he'll have a goliath-like battle on his hands with Canberra's Josh Papalii, Souths' Ben Te'o and Bronco teammate Matt Gillett the incumbent reserves alongside utility back Daly Cherry-Evans.
Earning a starting spot for the Broncos on a week-by-week basis is clearly McGuire's No.1 priority at present. Averaging 52 minutes over his four matches this season – he missed Round 3 through suspension – the Origin hopeful has averaged 11 hit-ups for 104 metres per match along with 33 tackles.
If the Brisbane-born bookend can improve on these numbers over the coming weeks, he is sure to raise the bushy eyebrows of Mal Meninga, as the Queensland coach shortlists players in the lead-up to Origin I on May 28.
"It's every kid's dream to play Origin when you grow up being a Queenslander," he said. "But to be honest that's the furthest thing from my mind. I just want to keep playing good footy for the Broncos and start every week and if you do that then everything else takes care of itself.
"It's a bit of a cliché, but you've got to play good club footy before you can start thinking about representative footy.
"At the end of the day it's not my decision – it's up to them (Meninga and the Queensland selectors)."
McGuire faces a stern test this Friday against the first-placed Gold Coast Titans and their pack consisting of Origin regulars Nate Myles, Greg Bird and retiring lock Ashley Harrison.
"They've got a world-class forward pack, some great halves and some very dangerous outside backs," said McGuire.
"They're the benchmark of the NRL at the moment. They're outright first and they have a right to go into the game very confident. We've got to go down there and take the two points away from them if we want to win and it's going to be a very hard task because they are the form team at the moment."
Another of Brisbane's bullocking forwards and potential rival with McGuire in the race for a Maroons' bench spot, Matt Gillett, is also fully prepping himself for a bruising encounter against the Titans.
"With all the experience they have there with Origin players and Australian players – they are a good forward pack and are going to be hard to stop," Gillett said.
"Obviously with [Greg] Bird there they have a ball-player as well. So it's going to be hard to stop and our forward pack has a big job this weekend.
"They've just come off beating Melbourne Storm down there which gives you confidence so we are going to have to be at our best on Friday night."