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Late-blooming Manly prop and possible Queensland Origin bolter Brenton Lawrence says he holds hope of getting a crack in a Maroons jersey.
The Adelaide-born former Australian schoolboy representative spent five years in the Canberra system before relocating to the Gold Coast, eventually making his NRL debut for the Titans in 2011 at the age of 26, playing 18 games over two seasons before signing with Manly for 2013-14.
Lawrence, now 29, quickly went from fringe first-grader to key squad member at Manly, playing 27 of 28 games in 2013 in the side's run to the grand final and turning in some eye-catching performances.
He averaged 104.4 metres and 26.5 tackles per game last year, and in 2014 has started all nine games at prop and averaged 98.7 metres and 31 tackles per game. With several incumbent forwards including Sam Thaiday, Josh Papalii, Chris McQueen and Ben Te'o struggling with a combination of form, injury or game time, Lawrence's name has been tossed about as a possible inclusion in Mal Meninga's side.
"I always think about the Queensland team – whether I'm in it or not I don't know," Lawrence said this week when asked if the May 28 series opener was on his mind.
"It's an exciting time, Origin time, there will be a lot of young guys getting their starts in their first-grade sides too," he said.
He said he was naturally hopeful of getting a chance at some stage, adding he "can't imagine" anyone who is eligible not wanting to play for their state.
Lawrence said discussions with other Origin representatives, including current clubmate and Queensland incumbent Daly Cherry-Evans, make him even keener to get a slice of the action.
"Daly and I have lots of chats! It's good to feed off Daly, he's played the big games," he said.
"Whenever you speak to someone who's played on the big stage it makes you very keen to get out there. Hearing someone talk about it makes it seem like it's not impossible."
Asked if there was anything more he could do to get Meninga's attention, he suggested "a couple more tries maybe". Which may be a bit harsh – of players who spend the majority of their time in the front row, only Raider Paul Vaughan, Rabbitoh Sam Burgess, Rooster Sam Moa and Cowboy Matt Scott (three tries apiece) have scored more than Lawrence's two tries in 2014.
"There's always more you can do, you never say 'I'm right to go'. Certainly there's a lot more I can do."
He said he has one more chance in Manly's Round 10 home game against Newcastle to impress Meninga but there is still the rest of the series and future years.
"I'm not retiring this year either so I've just got to keep playing good footy every week and see what happens," he said.