Fifita's pledge: I won't let Laurie down
He doesn't fit the traditional Origin mould but Sharks front-rower Andrew Fifita insists he won't let Blues coach Laurie Daley down if he is selected on Tuesday for Game One of the 2015 series next Wednesday.
Aaron Woods's continued emergence as one of the game's premier props and James Tamou's resurgence at the Cowboys leaves Fifita fighting for a bench spot along with the likes of David Klemmer, Josh Jackson, Tyson Frizell and Boyd Cordner.
Fifita came off the bench for New South Wales in all three Origin games in 2013 but missed the 2014 series through injury, an ankle concern and broken arm later in the year restricting him to just 12 games last season.
But he is back in a big way in 2015 and after running for a game high 181 metres from 21 runs along with 37 tackles and six tackle busts against the Titans on Saturday night, Fifita says he is ready to help the Blues defend their crown.
"All my little things on the field are paying off and it's starting to open eyes again," Fifita told NRL.com. "Am I ready for the Origin scene again? Am I capable of playing Origin? At the end of the day I didn't let them down in 2013 and I wouldn't let them down again.
"Because of injuries last year it happened (missing out on the series) but at the end of the day it's not a big deal for me at the moment. It is what it is and if I do (get selected) I wouldn't let them down."
Fifita's numbers against the Titans were up on his season average of 173m and 31 tackles prior to Round 10 and he said although he doesn't necessarily pay attention to the statistics they indicate that he is in fact in career-best form.
If anything could be giving Daley cause for second thoughts, it is Fifita's unpredictable running style which is a strength at club level that may be exposed as a weakness in the pressure-cooker of Origin.
The 25-year-old has made more tackle busts than any other forward thus far in 2015 and having not committed a single turnover in eight games said that he wouldn't put his state under unnecessary pressure with an impulsive play in the wrong part of the field.
"I grew up playing at fullback and on the wings and I am, let's just say, a unique front-rower," Fifita said. "At 120 kilos and for someone to move the way that me and my brother (fellow Sharks forward David Fifita) do is very different and very odd.
"If we're coming out of our end I wouldn't do it, I've got the mindset to know that my team's got to get up the field but once we get down 20 out or 30 out, he (Sharks coach Shane Flanagan) just says, 'Go for your life, create something.'
"If he wants a try, I'll dig deep for him trying to come up with that try. As you saw last week [against the Warriors] it paid off for me."