Rugged NSW back-rower Anthony Watmough has revealed he took star fullback Jarryd Hayne aside at the Blues' camp in Coffs Harbour to let him know how impressed he was with his match-winning efforts in the first game.
"I said this to him yesterday and I used these exact words. I told him 'I've played with some great players and played with people who have had some outstanding individual performances, but if you turn up and play the way you did we'll go a long way to winning the game'," Watmough said.
"He turned that game and I've never seen a more dominant player in a game at any level that I've played at."
It's strong praise coming from Watmough, whose 13 Origins and 16 Tests have seen him line up alongside Kangaroos and Maroons greats Darren Lockyer, Greg Inglis, Billy Slater, Cameron Smith and Johnathan Thurston.
Watmough said Hayne's 52nd-minute line break, which came during that period of immense pressure when the Blues were forced to defend their own line from set after set, was one of the special plays.
"He was coming in and pushing forwards out of the way, and when he made that big bust..." Watmough said.
"I was ready to just take the hit-up and cop my medicine, but he's pushing me out of the way and gone through and ran 60 metres. It's the special plays when people know when to inject themselves.
Watmough was clearly speaking from the heart when he told journalists that that memory and the rest of Hayne's performance from that match would be one of the ones he would carry with him forever, adding he sought Hayne out indiviudally in camp to tell him that personally.
"I don't know if that was special for him or if it meant [little] coming from me, but it's just one of those things that I felt had to be said. I said to him that it will be the memory that I hold with me and the moment that will stick out in my career."
Watmough's praise follows predictions from fellow squad members Luke Lewis and Josh Reynolds that the fullback could be in line for a second consecutive man of the match award, and if anything could produce an even better performance in Origin II.