Burning passion in Blues hopeful Mansour
He is in the rare company of players to have represented their country without playing for their state but Panthers winger Josh Mansour is desperate to rectify that aspect of his resume during the 2016 season.
One of 10 Kangaroos representatives to play all four matches in the 2014 Four Nations tournament, Mansour suffered a serious knee injury in Penrith's 32-6 loss to the Titans in Round 7 and after returning in Round 16 against the Wests Tigers missed a further month of footy.
It gave him no chance to press for selection in Laurie Daley's defending champion New South Wales team but the 25-year-old has told Denan Kemp's The Locker Room podcast that it is a major priority heading into the new season.
"I'd die to put that Blues jersey on," Mansour says in this week's episode of The Locker Room.
"It's the next goal in my career, it's the biggest stage in the NRL. Everyone wants to play Origin.
"It was tough that I couldn't play [in 2015] but I wasn't disheartened.
"I've still got a few years where I get to prove and hopefully next year I'll be able to put that jersey on and hopefully prove to everyone that I am capable of playing at that level."
A teammate of Adam Reynolds, James Roberts and Nathan Peats in the Rabbitohs' under-20s team that made the grand final in 2010, Mansour was unable to crack a spot in the South Sydney NRL team and in 2012 headed west to Penrith.
That year he was named the RLPA Rookie of the Year and in 2014 scored 15 tries in 22 games for the Panthers, prompting his call-up to the national team for the end-of-season tournament.