Country Knights eye Blues recall
With a quartet of Knights named to represent Trent Barrett's Country Origin team, winger James McManus and prop Kade Snowden are looking to push for further representative honours off the back of the annual clash against City on Sunday.
McManus, who is one of New South Wales's incumbent wingers heading into Origin I on May 27, dismissed talk of walking straight back into Laurie Daley's team and believed he needed to show his worth in Country colours this weekend.
Having replaced Will Hopoate in the Blues team after the Parramatta centre replaced regular winger Brett Morris over the course of the 2014 Origin series, McManus believes Origin selection is far from guaranteed for a number of players.
"Incumbency is a funny term really because I was the third winger or the third player picked in terms of injuries and things like that," McManus told NRL.com.
"All I can do is play a good game of football for Country. Whatever job 'Baz' [Barrett] has for me or requires of me, I'm aiming to play well.
"'Loz' [Daley] knows I've played State of Origin before and he knows what I'm all about. As long as I'm playing good football then at least I'm putting my hand up."
Remaining as humble as ever after being selected for what will be his fifth Country appearance, McManus believes playing well for Country is to be "cherished" and satisfying in itself.
Buoyed by the return of his fellow Knights winger Akuila Uate to the Country scene, the duo are keen to put in a big performance together.
"It's nice to have Aku by my side again this season, he's been playing great. We have always really enjoyed when we've come together for Country because we room together too," McManus said.
"We rang each other up on [Sunday when we were picked] to gee each other up a bit on how good the week's going to be.
"For me, it's about representing the country and if I play well then I'm at least a chance of retaining my spot in Origin. If not then at least I did well for Country."
While McManus has at least had a taste of the sky blue jumper in recent years, the story becomes complicated for teammate Snowden who is to end his four-year representative drought on Sunday.
Snowden last played for New South Wales and Australia in 2011 while his lone Country appearance thus far came way back in 2010.
Labelling it one of his goals in the pre-season to return to the representative scene in 2015, Snowden always believed he could get back to where he is now after putting forward his best start to a season in Newcastle colours to date.
"There were obviously plenty of things I had to work on and injuries held me back a bit but off the back of my good pre-season I've been pretty happy with my form," Snowden told NRL.com.
"Obviously we haven't been winning but other than it's not too bad."
Snowden however remained realistic about his personal task at hand, and even though he is averaging 124.7 metres and 35.4 tackles, said he is a long way down the pecking order in terms of State of Origin.
"There are a lot of good front-rowers in front of me so I'm going to have to play my best football for Country just to get in amongst the mix," Snowden said.
"It's unreal to be back, I'm stoked to be here. I'm honoured just to get my name back in to calculations so I'll be doing everything I can.
"My goal this season was to get back into rep football and this is just the first step."