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Opinion: Next 6mths will define Napa

If the Sydney Roosters go deep into the NRL finals, as a lot of pundits are tipping, it could have an unexpected impact for Queensland down the track.

Cooper Cronk is the ex-Maroons maestro who most of us Banana Benders associate with the fortunes of the Roosters, but I see Dylan Napa has been promoted back to their starting line-up this week.

It's been a case of 'out of sight, out of mind' a bit for Dylan since he went ballistic in the opening minutes of Origin II this year, crunching anything that moved.

Injury ruled him out of Game III and a succession of ailments has seen him play less than 60 minutes of footy over the last six weeks.

I believe the next six months will be the defining period of Dylan's career.

He's played five times for Queensland, not yet appeared for Australia, and five of his 17 appearances for the Roosters in 2018 have been off the interchange.

I'm also reminded that Dylan was the unlucky player to be shunted from the 2013 premiership-winning Roosters side.

He played in the preliminary final win, then was overlooked when Luke O'Donnell came back for their grand final victory.

All that paints a picture of a guy with immense ability, but who is yet to fully stamp himself as an immovable cornerstone of his team's success.

I've known Dylan a long time.

Our fathers were teammates in the 1980 Norths Devils team that beat the Souths Magpies in the Brisbane Rugby League grand final, back when it was stacked with international stars.

Dylan came and slept over my place and I just remember him as this tiny little redhead – not that there's anything wrong with that!

He comes from good stock.

His Dad Stan was a tough hombre and that pedigree has certainly been passed down the line.

I love the way Dylan plays the game. He hits blokes in a way that I could only dream of in my career.

Even wingers and touch judges had the wood over me when it came to defence.

But seriously, Dylan has a rare talent in that department, and his attack is often overlooked.

He has the ability to absorb punishment around the centre of the ruck, can get his arms away for a good offload when warranted, and knows how to position himself at the line.

If the Roosters work as a unit and fulfil their potential, it will bring a confidence and aura to Dylan that takes him to another level.

A chance to hoist the premiership trophy and walk around with a ring on his finger will reinforce his ability to feel at home among the upper echelon of front rowers in the NRL.

That'll convert to a dangerous commodity if and when he is picked for the Maroons in 2019.

Despite some people's misgivings, I think Queensland's pack has a good look about it going forward.
A feisty, firing Napa will be the cherry on top.

And no, that's not another ginger joke.