Lillyman focused after Origin snub
After being snubbed by Queensland selectors ahead of the opening game of the 2014 State of Origin series, Warriors prop Jacob Lillyman is feeling disappointed but determined.
In arguably career-best form, Lillyman had been touted as a potential replacement for Sam Thaiday, who was forced to withdraw from selection due to injury.
Instead the Maroons picked a bench without a recognised front-rower in sight, opting for utility Daly Cherry-Evans and three back-rowers in Ben Te'o, Aidan Guerra and Josh Papalii.
"Obviously there is disappointment – it is always such an honour to pull on that Maroon jersey," Lillyman said.
"I knew given my form that I was probably thereabouts and might have been talked about at the selection table, but they have shown in the past that loyalty is a big thing.
"I was hopeful that I might get a spot, but it wasn't to be and I am sure the guys they have will do the job.
"In saying that it is a long series and a lot can happen, as long as I am performing at club level then you never know.
"If there is an opportunity there I will grab it with both hands."
Warriors coach Andrew McFadden, who singled Lillyman out as the club's best player so far this season, was equally dejected when he heard the man they call 'Bull' had missed out.
"It is very disappointing for Jacob, he has been outstanding for us all year, probably our standout to be honest," McFadden said.
"His numbers on the weekend [against the Bulldogs] were huge, and I am really disappointed he didn't get selected.
"But it is a good thing for us and there are two other games he can push for, so I am still hopeful he will get another crack at Origin level."
After the first 10 rounds of the NRL season, Lillyman is the only Warriors player to have run for over 100 metres in every game, with an average of 140.
That number dwarfs his 2013 average of 97 metres per game, while his work rate on the other side of the ball has improved too, including a 35-tackle haul in last week's 16-12 loss to the Bulldogs.
Lillyman's NRL Fantasy prospects have risen significantly as well. With an average round score of 36.9, his value has increased by $18,858 since the start of the season.
The 30-year-old former Cowboy says an extended pre-season campaign and maturing of the mind is behind his positive start to the year.
"At the time it was pretty sad coming back on the 28th of October [for pre-season training], but it meant that we had a lot of time to work on things and get the body up to really good strength and fitness levels," he said.
"This year a big goal for me was to be really consistent. I think I have achieved that so far, but there is still a long way to go."
With Sam Rapira still battling injury, and Sione Lousi limping off the park with a knee injury last week, the depleted Warriors front-row face a Gold Coast side also missing a key big-bopper in Nate Myles, who is in camp with the Maroons.