NSW series win within reach: Fifita
New South Wales prop Andrew Fifita can see the light at the end of the tunnel.
For he and 16 other NSW teammates – 13 of which are yet to experience a series win – the opportunity could not be any more perfect with the Blues fielding an unchanged line-up for the first time in over two decades.
While much of the talk heading into State of Origin II has centred around how Queensland are going to contain Fifita and the Blues forward pack in a bid to level the series, the man himself has other ideas.
Former greats labelled his performance in Origin I as the best ever by a forward, but Fifita is focused on Game Two and has put the hype of the Origin I win behind him.
"I kind of just brushed it," Fifita said.
"I embraced it for the night and enjoyed it but we've got a bigger game on Wednesday night.
"I love the hype and they're big games that you want to be involved in and have input.
"Everyone backs me as a player so I back myself I guess."
It was the sight many NSW fans may not have seen unless they were at Suncorp Stadium three weeks ago: a confident Fifita walking back to his mark behind the in-goal area after scoring the Blues' fourth try only to be greeted by a barrage of verbal tirades from the Maroons faithful.
"There is nothing better than thriving off negative comments and walking back [after a try] in front of a house full of people who dislike you," Fifita said.
"Instead of running across the field [to come off] I said to myself I'm going to embrace this moment and I ended up taking the long journey [around the stadium] and give them all a smile and a thank you.
"There is a bit of arrogance and cockiness you've got to take into a game but at the same time you block the nerves away and get on with it.
"I was copping everything left, right and centre. At the end of the day Queensland will feel it when they come down here at our stadium."
NSW are expecting the new-look Queensland forward pack to come out firing after being dominated through the middle in the opening encounter – particularly by the Australian international.
And while one Sydney newspaper publicly embarrassed Maroons debutant Tim Glasby last week with a jibe indicating they had no idea who he was, Fifita knows that kind of treatment will only spur the Melbourne Storm forward on more.
"As a first-grader it's so hard to make first grade and the way I put it – Tim Glasby has been in the shadow of Jesse Bromwich," Fifita said.
"You can put him as my Matt Prior, who won our top gong at the Sharks last year. He's one of the most underrated players in the comp but well respected on the field.
"All this negative talk about him puts pressure on us. If I had all that negative stuff, I would be thriving off it and proving to everyone I am someone.
"[The Maroons have] a whole new fresh forward pack that is ready to prove their worthy of that Queensland jersey, not just this year but make their mark to remain there.
"We're expecting an ambush but in saying that we're going to do the best we can to seal the series."
After lifting the Telstra Premiership trophy with Cronulla last season and being part of a World Cup triumph with Australia in 2013, an Origin series win is all that is left for the Blacktown junior to accomplish.
"It's in reach and that's what I want," Fifita said.
"The main thing is [it's at] home, I want to win here and it's a bonus we got the win up there. I'd never won [at Suncorp Stadium] in my Origin career.
"I've got 80 minutes to fill out another goal of mine and I need 16 other blokes to come with me, which I know they will."