Brian To’o has been lauded as the best winger in the NRL as the Penrith dynamo mounts a near irresistible case for NSW selection.
To’o defused an endless aerial raid from Brisbane’s Queensland Maroons winger Xavier Coates in the 20-12 win over the Broncos on Thursday night showing he was ready to handle whatever comes his way if called upon by Brad Fittler.
The 22-year-old had his moments of uncertainty and three errors but immediately "flushed away" his mistakes by taking yet another hit-up for his team as he continues to streak away for anybody else as the Telstra Premiership's leading ball runner.
"The way I flush it is to take the next carry for the team, the team will always come first, I don't want to let them down and dwell on my errors. I just flush it and worry about the next play," To’o said.
"I have to work on catching those bombs, in the next few weeks that come by I have to ace those bombs.
Match Highlights: Broncos v Panthers
"To come out against a young kid like Coates, he is good in the air so I had to work on that throughout the week. Some parts I was good and some parts I have to work on to be better for next week.
"Origin is definitely a goal if it comes. Hopefully I earn the opportunity but right now I want to play consistent footy every week for Penrith."
To’o had 25 runs for 272 metres and 15 tackle breaks against the Broncos and it’s his tireless effort to do the hard work for his forwards that has coach Ivan Cleary and Penrith's Queensland forward Kurt Capewell calling for him to be handed an Origin debut.
"I think he would be [ready for Origin]. He had a bit of trouble with high ball tonight but he actually had to catch that many sometimes when you put people under that much pressure you can’t catch them all," Cleary said.
"He has been phenomenal for us this year just week in week out he just carries the team, honestly.
"You know what, if they put someone ahead of him they’d be a pretty good player."
Fittler used Josh Addo-Carr and Daniel Tupou in last year’s losing series team but To’o would be comfortable on either side given he only this season made the switch to the left for the Panthers.
Addo-Carr is a virtual lock to be one winger for NSW but the Blues have several options for the other flank, including Storm speedster Ryan Papenhuyzen and Canterbury's Nick Cotric while Roosters veteran Brett Morris is playing well enough to be in contention but has retired from rep footy.
"I don't want to play against him, put it that way," Capewell said.
"Week to week he has been unbelievable for us, he is definitely ready for Origin, he is the best winger in the comp.
"He gets us out of trouble a lot. He had three hit-ups in the one set which is phenomenal and I'm definitely happy to have him on my team."
Which team do you love to beat the most?
Meanwhile, Capewell said he was in no hurry to finalise his future as the off-contract second-rower faces being squeezed out of the Panthers due to the salary cap.
Capewell is reportedly on the radar of the Broncos but he insisted his next move, if away from Penrith, will be to a club building a winning culture that he loves at the Panthers.
"I have plenty of options and at the moment I am keeping it open. Why would I want to leave a team like Penrith? They are flying and there is such a good culture at the club and I am loving every day at training," he said.
Magic Round: One month to go
"Ultimately, the goal is to continue playing for a team like that. I will see how it goes.
"I'm not really too worried about next year yet, it's hard to worry about next year when you are in week to week mode throughout the season because you are so consumed about the next game. The other stuff will take care of itself.
"Being a Queenslander, not that that will affect my decision at the end of the day, I want to go to a club that's got the same culture as me and believes in the same sort of stuff which is hard work and having that team culture.
"When you are making a decision like that, it's not about money so much or where you have to live, that comes into it a bit, but as long as the club aligns with my values that's what I will look for."