Andrew Fifita has revealed he skipped watching the NSW Blues' 22-12 win over the Maroons on Wednesday night and expressed disappointment at the NRL schedule preventing him from being in contention for Origin II after committing to Tonga.
While saying the past fortnight with no Origin build-up had been "stress free" compared to previous years, the 28-year-old also put blame on the NRL for its scheduling of the representative weekend.
Tonga will play Samoa in the Pacific Test at Campbelltown on June 23, a day before the Blues look to wrap up the Holden State of Origin series in Sydney.
"I didn't watch Wednesday night but in saying that I was happy to see the result," Fifita told NRL.com after the Sharks' 26-16 win over the Tigers on Sunday.
"It kind of hurt not to be a part of it knowing I could have been but in saying that, that's the NRL's fault for putting tier-two nations on the same weekend as an Origin match.
"Origin should be on the Wednesday night, not on an international level. I would've been committed to all three but in the long run, the pinnacle in this game is to play for your country and I am.
"It's been a relief ever since I made my announcement. I've been stress-free. I made a commitment to Tonga and I thought NSW did the job. Hopefully, they can get the job done in Sydney but we know anything can happen."
Match Highlights: Sharks v Wests Tigers - Round 14, 2018
Whether Blues coach Brad Fittler would have chosen the former Blues prop is another question, but Fifita was enthusiastic about the prospect of leading the Tongan side in a fortnight.
"I can't wait, pumped as. Social media and everything is going off around me," Fifita said.
"Everyone is waiting, I would love to have versed one of the bigger nations but being Pacific weekend we'll settle for Samoa.
"I'm just trying to get the fans out to Campbelltown. If we can have a fan base like we did at the World Cup it will be awesome."
Fifita had a quiet afternoon against his former club in greasy conditions but the Sharks did enough with skipper Paul Gallen starring in the eight-point win.
Cronulla trailed 10-2 at half-time but rallied with three tries in nine minutes to set up the victory.
Gallen got the ball rolling with the home team's first four-pointer before sending Valentine Holmes into open space for the side's second, but later admitted the side lacked energy for most periods of the game.
"I was concerned at half-time to be honest, the feel in the dressing room was down," Gallen said.
"I tried to talk and get going but I'm not usually like that and rather my actions. We were just a bit flat today."
Sharks coach Shane Flanagan said the win was a pleasing response after last week's loss to the Rabbitohs.
"It was a bit frustrating, in the first half we didn't have any blocks of possession and couldn't mount any goal-line pressure. Then we went down there and dropped the ball," he said.
"In the second half we played with a bit more composure and put them under pressure to come up with some decent tries. We needed to respond and did it accordingly. It was always going to be one of those games we needed to just get home."