New Zealand Warriors winger Ken Maumalo is hopeful of a return to first grade after starring in the NSW Residents' 30-16 win over the QLD Residents on Sunday at Langland's park in Brisbane.
It was the first win for the New South Welshmen in the fixture since 2013 and Maumalo's efforts were a big reason for their success.
Maumalo scored a hat-trick, rediscovering the form that saw him make his NRL debut in 2015 – playing eight games for the Warriors.
Originally better known as a back-rower in his Holden Cup days, Maumalo has transformed himself into a hulking winner with a knack for scoring spectacular tries.
Yet to return to the big time in 2016, the 21-year-old says Sunday's match was just like playing in the NRL.
"Hopefully performances like that can put my name forward for first grade this year," Maumalo said.
"It's pretty hard right now to get a crack at the Warriors because there are heaps of outside backs but getting a go last year was really good.
"That game today was very close to NRL standard. It was as physical as an NRL match and we were all stuffed at the end. My lungs were blowing so it was great to hang on and get the win.
"It's not my first hat-trick of my career but it's certainly my most memorable. It's really good to get one over the Queenslanders and I'm proud to get a hat-trick."
It was Maumalo's first taste of the State of Origin rivalry that is QLD vs. NSW and the versatile winger was impressed with the intensity of the contest.
Defence ultimately won NSW the match and Maumalo was full of praise for his teammates efforts in the middle of the park.
"It’s a pretty strong rivalry. That's honestly one of the hardest games of football I've played in my life. It was just so physical," he said.
"We stuck in there with our defence and we didn't let them back into the game in that last quarter.
"It's a full credit to the boys in the middle who defended well for the full 80. It was nice for me to finish off their hard work with a few tries."