Angus Crichton says he has taken benefits from being dropped from the NSW team last year and is honoured to be back in the squad for the upcoming series.
The Roosters second-rower debuted in 2018, playing all three games in the series victory, but was omitted following a loss to Queensland in the opening match of the 2019 campaign.
The 24-year-old went on to win the NRL premiership last season and believes he developed in several areas due to his Origin axing.
"I think obviously with tough times you've got to be able to grow and you've got to make it work and stand up," he told NRL.com.
"Last year I learnt a lot about myself and learnt a lot about the kind of man and player and person I want to be. It's good. It's great to be back around the boys and back around the team.
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"It's an honour to be able to be in this squad and be around these players. Some really smart players, some really elite guys and the coaching staff as well."
Crichton had limited contact with Blues coach Brad Fittler after parting ways with the squad but the two remained on good terms.
"We just sort of spoke obviously after the game and I knew I wasn’t playing my best footy," he said.
Match: Blues v Maroons
Game 1 -
Venue: Adelaide Oval, Adelaide
"I knew in myself that I wasn't playing the way that I like to play.
"But we didn't really have much chat. Obviously just friendly chat here and there. And then I did the bushfire appeal up at Taree [in December] and went up through those bushfire-affected areas.
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"I don't think we spoke about footy once that whole time. We were just all hanging out and catching up. We never really had much footy chat."
The former Rabbitohs forward described being coached by Fittler - one of his favourite players as a kid - as "pretty buzzy".
"To hang out with him - a really sort of laid-back, easy-going guy who I get on quite well with - it's enjoyable," he said.
Crichton's versatility could give him an edge in the battle for positions. He still wants to be an "80-minute edge back-rower", but can make an impact in the middle or play in the centres at a pinch.
"Obviously I'll play wherever the team needs me. I'm capable of playing in a number of different positions and wherever the coach wants to put me in, I'm happy to do a job," he said.
With the Roosters falling short of an historic three-peat with a week-two finals loss to Canberra, Crichton took delight in a brief break from the COVID bubble as he caught up with family and friends.
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NSW and Queensland will be under biosecurity measures for the duration of their camps throughout the series.
A recharged Crichton may be "ready to rip in" again, but the pain of the Roosters' finals exit remains.
"We weren't good enough, man," he said.
"We weren't good enough and we've got to be better. All of us have got to be better. I think that we'll take our lessons out of that and we'll do our best to come back and learn and be better for it."