Maroons hopeful Reed Mahoney has hosed down talk Saturday night's match-up with Damien Cook could be an early preview for State of Origin in a fortnight as he pushes towards a debut.
A hamstring injury has hampered his main rival Harry Grant for the past month and despite Craig Bellamy declaring on Wednesday the Storm rake would be fit for Origin, the Queensland selectors will have to weigh up whether to pick him without any recent game time.
Mahoney's strong form at Parramatta this season has put him in the frame to wear the Maroons No.9 jersey made vacant by Roosters veteran Jake Friend's retirement with St George Illawarra skipper Ben Hunt another option.
A dual with Cook 11 days out from Origin I could at least keep Mahoney's chances in the spotlight should the Maroons require another dummy-half throughout the series.
The man himself, however, wasn't talking up his Origin chances when pressed on Wednesday, particularly after the Eels' loss to the Sea Eagles on Sunday.
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"I don't know, I try not to think about it too much and let it worry me," Mahoney said.
"It's something I can't control. The only thing I can is playing good footy on the weekend.
"If I'm there, I'm there, it's every kid's dream. Cookie is a quality player and will want to respond and bring his team up. It's going to be a good match-up.
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"They're coming off a big loss last week so will be looking to turn it around."
Eels captain Clint Gutherson, who was part of the Blues' unsuccessful title defence last year, backed both dummy halves to make their mark at the representative level.
"I think the way Reedy has started the year and shown everyone what he can do on the field and how much of a vital part he is in this team iIf he gets a crack for Queensland it will be great for him but not great for us [NSW]," Gutherson said when asked why Mahoney was ready for Origin.
"I hope Cook beats him if they play [in Origin] but this week we need Reed at his best because Cooky is one of the best nines in the comp.
"Reedy will have to go out and prove his point."
After being used by Brad Fittler in the centres and at fullback during last year's Ampol State of Origin series, Gutherson was not sure about his own hopes of retaining his position for NSW.
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The 26-year-old Parramatta skipper is among one of the hardest-working players in the game but the form of James Tedesco and Tom Trbojevic is likely to squeeze him out of a role in the backs.
"If I get another chance in a blue jersey I'll take it with both hands but there are so many quality players out there for the Blues which is good for us," he said.
"Whoever Freddy and the team go with I'll support them. We've got to get that shield back and if I'm playing or not playing I'll still get behind them."
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Of more immediate concern, the Eels are looking to bounce back from last week's loss to the Sea Eagles against a South Sydney outfit which will be equally as desperate after going down 56-12 to Penrith in Dubbo.
Both sides have recent history with the Bunnies knocking the Eels out of last year's competition in the semi-finals.
"We spoke about it in the pre-season but nothing as of now, we're just treating it as another game," Mahoney said.
"We've come off a pretty bad loss so it's about getting back into the winner's circle."