Jackson admits NSW Origin spot is under threat
Josh Jackson is adamant threats to his NSW jersey are the "furthest thing from my mind" as Canterbury's Telstra Premiership campaign enters do-or-die territory just two months into the 2018 season.
The Bulldogs head into Thursday's crunch clash with Brisbane on the back of an underwhelming 2-6 start, casting doubt over the representative selection credentials of Blues trio David Klemmer, Aaron Woods and Jackson.
While Klemmer is tipped to keep his spot up front in Brad Fittler's 17 for Origin I at the MCG on June 6, Jackson and Woods are under serious pressure from several in-form NSW contenders.
It would be a big call to drop Jackson given he hasn't missed a match for NSW since his Holden State of Origin series debut in game one of 2015 .
He was also awarded the Brad Fittler Medal a year later as the Blues' player of the series.
But with the Bulldogs struggling throughout 2017, the 27-year-old missed out on a Kangaroos World Cup berth, while Dragons back-rowers Jack de Belin and Tariq Sims are mounting impressive cases for NSW call-ups.
With skipper Boyd Cordner, Tyson Frizell and Jake Trbojevic considered certainties to line up for NSW provided they are fit, there is a genuine chance Jackson could be left out in the cold.
Having been crowned Canterbury's captain by new coach Dean Pay, his immediate focus is on digging his 14th-placed side out a rut that is already jeopardising their finals chances.
"To be quite honest with you, it's the furthest thing from my mind at the moment," Jackson said when quizzed on his Origin chances.
"I know it's the old cliché but we're struggling here and I'm just trying to focus on trying to play well for Canterbury every week and get the two points for us.
"This is the team that we've trained together all year for. Coming in day-in, day-out and we train together every day so I'm worried about Canterbury at the moment."
Jackson's concern is well and truly justified.
Only Parramatta have scored fewer points than the Canterbury tally of 117 in 2018, with the Dogs ranking last for tries scored (18).
Jackson admits the Bulldogs need a rapid turnaround in form to keep in touch with the top eight, particularly in their second-half efforts having coughed up a 12-2 lead over Penrith last weekend.
"It's an extremely important game for us, they pretty much all are now," Jackson said of the upcoming Broncos clash.
"We just need to make sure that we're really focusing on our second halves I think. They've let us down the first part of the competition.
"All the wins are pretty important now. I think it's game management from us.
"We put ourselves in a position to win the game last week, we were up and then I think we were about 14-all at one stage with about 10 or 15 minutes to go and a few crucial errors cost us on our own try line.
"We need to get better at managing games particularly towards the back end."