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'Grateful' Koroisau relieved to earn second Origin chance

Panthers hooker Api Koroisau won’t play in Origin I unless injury strikes but the NSW and Fijian representative is just grateful to be back in the fold after his COVID-19 bubble breach last year.

Koroisau was fined $35,000 fine suspended for two games by the NRL following NSW’s series win after it emerged he had breached the game’s code of conduct by bringing a person into the team's strict bubble during the Origin series.  

The incident raised questions around whether Koroisau would be allowed back into another Blues campaign under Brad Fittler given the NSW coach's work with the team's culture in recent years.

Koroisau admitted on Monday he thought his time in a sky blue jersey might’ve been over after just one game so getting a phone call from Fittler on Sunday brought some relief.

“I thought I was probably done, I didn’t think too far ahead about this moment at the time but I’m definitely grateful to get another opportunity for sure,” Koroisau told NRL.com.

“It was a surprise I got a call but awesome to be around so many good players like this and to be recognised for a game like this.

Four years on: RCG back in sky blue

“Freddy was short and sweet about it. He said he wanted me here and it was nice to be told that. Regardless of what the team is [next Wednesday night] I’m just grateful to be back in this environment.”

Koroisau will spend the next few days in NSW camp to help the Blues prepare before he’ll take his place in Penrith’s line-up for their clash with Canterbury on Friday night.

The Panthers struggled momentarily at the start the Origin period last year, dropping back-to-back games.

They’ll go into the Bulldogs clash with a set of new halves with Sean O’Sullivan and Kurt Falls to partner Koroisau and Dylan Edwards in the spine.

“There are opportunities for these boys and it will be good to play alongside them,” Koroisau said.

“They really deserve the chance to  play first grade. The rest of the NSW Cup boys have been playing some incredible footy as well.

“I’ll prepare here as though I’ll definitely play Friday. It’s obviously a bit different being away from the Panthers boys this week but we know the system back there and will be ok.”

The Panthers met the Bulldogs in round five for a 32-12 scoreline in their favour but Koroisau was wary of his opponents given their position on the ladder.

Former Panther Matt Burton will return to Penrith for the first time after a mixed season while former NSW winger Josh Addo-Carr is also on deck after being overlooked for Origin I this year.

“It’s not ideal for them but for us we’re looking to keep the momentum going.” Koroisau said.

“It’s a big period for the club and will be an important game.”

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