Josh Papalii’s resurgence has seen the Canberra Raiders star’s name thrown back into the mix for State of Origin selection but the man himself is refusing to let a maroon jersey clog up his radar.
Four weeks ago Papalii had been dropped to NSW Cup and the off-contract star’s future in Canberra looked in grave danger.
Will Josh Papalii retain his spot for Queensland?
But he has returned with a vengeance and hopes his future will be sorted “pretty soon” having been linked to a stack of rival clubs.
Papalii played a key role in the Green Machine’s drought-breaking win over North Queensland in Townsville but that game and talk of a return to the Origin arena are the last things on his mind.
All the 25-year-old is worried about is a clash with the Gold Coast Titans at Canberra Stadium on Saturday.
"The boys are pretty excited with the win. Our biggest focus is our next game and the preparation for the next game starts now," Papalii said.
"The boys really dug down deep for each other and hopefully we can take it into next week. It was definitely a happy moment for myself [to start and win] but we’ve still got a long way to go and we’ve still got one more game [coming up].
"I felt alright. I was blowing a bit but that happens in the middle and hopefully we progress from here."
Raiders coach Ricky Stuart has been rapt with Papalii’s response since being dropped and believes he wouldn’t look out of place in a Maroon jumper come June 6.
Queensland coach Kevin Walters was on hand to see Papalii cross the stripe in Canberra’s win over the Cowboys and Stuart believes he would have liked what he saw.
"There’s reasons I dropped Josh, and we sat down and spoke about that," Stuart said.
"That’s in the past now, so he’s got three very good games under his belt now and two wins out of the three. It’s good for Josh and I’m happy for Josh because he is a big part of our team and we need Josh playing well.
"I know his Origin coach is here, Kev, and I’m sure Kevin would be very happy with that performance after that 80 minutes."
Stuart has joined some of rugby league's biggest names in the race to join the 100 Hall of Fame members inducted as part of the game’s centenary year in 2008.
A provisional list of 100 potential inductees was sliced to 25, with just six to make the final cut in July as the precursor to a gala ceremony the following month to induct up to two more Immortals.
The likes of Stuart, Danny Buderus, Paul Harragon, Gorden Tallis, Cliff Lyons, Petero Civoniceva, Ruben Wiki and Stacey Jones are among those in the final 25-man list.
Stuart could join a host of superstars from the Green Machine's golden era in the hall of fame with Mal Meninga, Laurie Daley, Steve Walters, Glenn Lazarus and Bradley Clyde all in the esteemed 100-man group.
NRL ROUND NINE
Saturday: Canberra Raiders v Gold Coast Titans at Canberra Stadium, 3pm. Tickets from Ticketek.
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