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Jeremiah Nanai reckons he never scored a try once leaping in the air at the junior level.

He couldn’t recall scoring any in the Queensland Cup last year either.

“All my tries usually come from running good lines,” he tells NRL.com.

Nanai, the Cowboys teenage prodigy, has eight tries in 10 NRL appearances this season, all of which have come from the boot of either Chad Townsend or Tom Dearden.

The crazy statistic has the 19-year-old in the frame for a Maroons jersey after coach Billy Slater gave him a call earlier this month to encourage him to keep focusing on one thing.

“He wants me to keep competing,” Nanai says.

“We had a conversation and I listened, it was pretty cool. A lot of it comes down to Chad and Tommy putting the ball on a dime. I just want to compete on everything.”

If Slater is looking for a point of difference, the Kirwan State High School product wouldn't look out of place.

Nanai has been a by-product of North Queensland’s stunning start to the season this year with their performances shocking the competition after a few lean years for the club.

Some kind of try for your first in the NRL


He made his NRL debut during the side’s difficult end to their 2021 campaign but did enough to attract offers from rival clubs, many of which he turned down in April.

With his family settled in North Queensland after arriving to the region from New Zealand when he was three, Nanai grew up playing basketball and volleyball, skills that he believes are helping his purple patch of leaping.

"I think that has a fair bit to do with it, I'm not afraid to look up and worry about dropping it, I guess it's just been falling my way at the moment," he continued.

Another player who has surged into Origin contention is Cowboys teammate Reuben Cotter with coach Todd Payten's selection calls this season proving a masterstroke.

Cotter's move to the middle as a pocket-rocket forward last year never got much attention but his efforts scoring a remarkable first NRL try in Magic Round has capped off a stunning 10 weeks for the Cowboys. 

"When Toddy approached me last year to go into the middle I didn't think much of it but with Robbo (Reece Robson) and Jakey [Granville] here I wanted to be in the team every week.

"My job is a lot more simple now compared to hooker and I'm enjoying mixing it with the big boys. Robbo did all the work [for the try] I think and I was just backing up in support."

Cowboys v Storm

North Queensland officials are expecting a crowd of over 20,000 for the side's clash with Melbourne on Saturday with the Cowboys set for their greatest test so far this season. 

"It will give us a really good indication of where we're at," Cotter said.

"The feeling amongst the boys is unbelievable at the moment and that's a reflection of what we're putting out there on the field."

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