Parramatta's push towards a top-four finish could bring an added bonus for Brad Takairangi as he eyes a recall to the Kiwi Test team.
The resurgent Eels' 36-12 win over the Titans last Friday solidified their place within the top eight. They head into Thursday's clash with the Bulldogs level on points with the fourth-placed Sea Eagles.
Presently substituting for Blake Ferguson on the right-wing, Takairangi will have one more week in the No.5 jersey before Ferguson's anticipated return against the Broncos in round 24.
Five-eighth for the Cook Islands in their 66-6 defeat of South Africa in June, Takairangi hopes that the further Parramatta progress in the Telstra Premiership finals series the better his chances of earning a recall in Michael Maguire's New Zealand team to play Australia and Great Britain at the completion of the NRL season.
The Cook Islands will play in the Downer Rugby League World Cup 9s and have a World Cup qualifier against the USA in Florida in November but Takairangi has his expressed his desire to add to his four Kiwi appearances.
Every try from Round 22
"We've got the Nines and then a World Cup qualifier against the USA but I'd actually love to get back in the Kiwis," Takairangi said.
"Myself and Dylan [Brown] had a chat with Motu Tony who is the high-performance GM of the New Zealand Rugby League.
"It's good to be recognsied that we're playing good footy. Hopefully, if we go deep into the semis and keep playing well, we'll see what happens.
"Obviously if that doesn't work out I'm happy to lead the young Kuki boys."
Locked in at right centre at Parramatta this year until the mid-season arrival of Waqa Blake from the Panthers, Takairangi's utility value has kept him in the Eels' 17.
He'll line up on the wing for just the fourth time in his career on Thursday, has experience playing in the back row and filled in at five-eighth against the Titans when fullback Clint Gutherson was given an early mark 10 minutes from time.
"At the moment, 100 per cent," Takairangi said when asked whether his versatility was an advantage.
"I've played most of the year at centre and once 'Fergo' was out, just being able to have another big body on the wing.
"I'm just a footballer so I can play anywhere. I ended up playing six for the last 10 minutes as well. Whatever Brad needs I'm happy to play there."
Now 30 years of age and off-contract at the end of the season, Takairangi's finals experiences are not happy ones.
Get Caught Up: Round 22
Like a number of the 2019 Eels, the 2017 campaign where they finished fourth and then fell out of the finals on the back of consecutive losses remains a sore point.
"It was very disappointing the way we went out in '17, back-to-back losses," he said.
"We honestly could have won that game in Melbourne but a call went against us but we're a totally different team to last year.
"Nothing went right for us last year but our  pre-season was huge. It was mostly about building relationships, getting to know each other more closely and I think you can see that when we're playing.
"Everyone had to present the three things that are most important to them and it got pretty emotional because you knew these were things that the boys hadn't told anyone else.
"Everyone's playing for each other more. When you're playing for the guy next to you, the results start going your way. If we can keep doing that I reckon it will give us a good chance to give the comp a shake.
"The last four or five weeks we're showing the type of team that we can be."