Brisbane centre Kotoni Staggs knows he will have to be on high alert for destructive Sharks centre and possible rival for an Origin spot, Siosifa Talakai, on Thursday night.
Staggs himself has had a huge three games since a quiet-ish opening month, bagging two tries and one assist with 24 tackle breaks and 408 metres in his past three outings.
But Talakai's past four games since moving to centre – four tries, six assists, 38 busts and 208 metres per game – should have the entire competition on high alert.
"He's outstanding," was Staggs' blunt assessment of the Cronulla wrecking ball.
"I've played against him before, I know what I've got to do and it's not to go high that's for sure! It's going to be a good test for myself and I'll do everything I can to contain him and help the team out."
Talakai's demolition job
He said he didn't watch Cronulla's first-half demolition of Manly in round seven – although he "did see a bit of highlights and it didn't really look happy for the other centre (Morgan Harper)," which is probably an understatement.
"I just think he's a big body and he uses it, whatever's in front of him he'll take it, if the opportunity's there to run over someone he'll do it. He just backs himself," Staggs added.
Latrell Mitchell's hamstring injury could mean there is an Origin centre spot open for the June 8 series opener at Accor Stadium. Staggs has been on coach Brad Fittler's radar for a while and the Wellington product us putting himself in the frame alongside the likes of Stephen Crichton, Campbell Graham and Zac Lomax.
However Talakai has come from the clouds over the past month to put himself right in the conversation and could leapfrog them all if his current purple patch continues.
"Every week is a challenge for me, I've got to put my best foot forward and perform well for myself and the team," Staggs said of his representative hopes.
"That Blues jersey is on my mind, I've always wanted to play ion Origin for the Blues. If I have to keep performing better to get the jersey I will.
"I was pretty close before I did my knee … taking a step back now, I've learned a lot about myself after the injury. I'm probably in a better head space than I was.
"If the opportunity does come I'll take it with both hands."
Staggs' last conversation with Fittler was after his try-scoring, 196-metre, 14-bust effort against the Roosters in round five.
"I saw him after the Roosters game at Suncorp. He just said 'do what you did tonight, go out and do it for the rest of the year and back yourself and if you're down, just go looking for the ball'," Staggs said.
"[He told me] to do what got me to where I am today and what got me to love the sport – going out and having fun with my mates, all the little things, just back myself."