Injured Panthers winger Josh Mansour hasn't given up hope of playing in his first Origin series despite being ruled out for up to six weeks with a knee injury.
After initially fearing he would miss the rest of the season after coming from the field in last Saturday's defeat on the Gold Coast, a relieved Mansour has now set his sights on an early return.
"When I first did it I was a bit nervous because with your knees you're never too sure. Luckily I got the scans done [on Monday] and it didn't come out too bad. I tore my MCL. Hopefully I get back in five or six weeks," he said.
It's been a horror injury run for the 24-year-old, who postponed a shoulder reconstruction and ankle cleanout last summer to win his maiden Test jumper in last year's Four Nations.
"It does take its toll but in saying that, it's not the end of the world. I'll still be able to play a bit of footy this season, which is a good thing," he said.
"I just want to get back as fast as I can and get through the rehab and get back and be a part of the team."
Mansour will now miss the upcoming mid-year Test against New Zealand due to injury. However he remains confident of returning ahead of schedule to contend for a Blues jumper.
NSW coach Laurie Daley names his side for Origin I in a month.
"It was part of a goal of mine to obviously play rep footy this year. But in saying that, I just have to keep my head up and hopefully that'll come later on in the year," he said.
"For myself, I'm confident [of returning early]. I thought I was finding form the last couple of games. I just want to get back as fast as I can and hopefully be in that frame again."
The loss of Mansour continues the club's wretched run of injuries over the opening two months of the year, adding to an already sidelined Jamie Soward (back), Peter Wallace (knee), Jamal Idris (knee), Lewis Brown (ribs), Elijah Taylor (knee) and Dean Whare (hamstring).
Rookie winger George Jennings, who deputised for Mansour earlier this year, is expected to be named by coach Ivan Cleary on Tuesday evening.
"George is a talented kid and comes from a very talented family as well. He had an amazing two games at the beginning of the year for us and I'm sure he'll continue his form for us," Mansour said.