Dylan Napa will launch a 25-minute opening onslaught against Jesse Bromwich and the Storm pack at Belmore on Sunday to prove to Maroons coach Kevin Walters that he should be in the 17 for Origin I.
Disappointed with the way he has started games since making his return from an ankle injury, Napa intends to unleash an opening salvo against Melbourne that will not only help Canterbury start faster but press his Origin claims just hours before Walters settles on his team.
An ankle injury had Napa in doubt for Game Two last year and he missed Game Three due to a knee injury, opening the door for Josh Papalii and Jai Arrow to lay the platform for the Maroons’ sole victory in 2018, an 18-12 win at Suncorp Stadium.
Papalii and Arrow are the only two middle forwards guaranteed selection and Napa knows he has a fight on his hands to win his sixth Origin appearance.
"There are a lot of good players in my position,” Napa told NRL.com following the Bulldogs’ 22-16 win over the Titans last Saturday.
“Jarrod Wallace had a massive game today, Jai Arrow had a huge game, Josh Papalii's been playing unreal, there's Josh McGuire who will be a shoo-in.
"I'm still trying to fight, using that mentality each week to try and fight for a spot but more importantly fight to get a win for our team.”
On the back of Magic Round a week earlier, two games in successive weeks in front of friends and family in south-east Queensland has lit the Origin fuse within the 26-year-old.
Although he hasn’t heard from Walters recently, Napa is hopeful he will see the coach’s number come up in his phone at some stage over the next six days.
"It's no secret that Origin is around the corner and I'd love to be hearing some positive news from him in the next few weeks,” Napa said.
“I still feel like I've started a bit flat in all three games since coming back from my injury so that's something I'm going to work on.
"Getting my body in the right shape to have that first 20-25 minutes and make it a good 25 minutes.
“I usually start OK but I've been missing the mark. The last three games the other team has got out to a bit of a lead against us so it just put our team on the back foot straight away.
“My job is to put our team on the front foot so I need to fix that up.”
With Matt Gillett and Felise Kaufusi certain to start on the edges for Queensland, Walters’ middle forward rotation is perhaps the most important piece of the selection puzzle.
McGuire may not play before the team is picked, his Cowboys teammate Matt Scott is pushing for an Origin swansong while Coen Hess provides a bench option capable of playing in the middle or on an edge.
Wallace has played in the past five Origin matches and ran for a season-high 199 metres against the Bulldogs while Newcastle’s Tim Glasby and Brisbane’s Joe Ofahengaue are also in the mix.
Whichever way Walters leans, 13-time Maroons rep Michael Crocker says those who get the nod will rise to the occasion.
"It doesn't matter how good you're playing or how bad you're playing, when you come into Origin camp it's generally a different feeling,” Crocker said.
"You get a bit of confidence just coming into the camp.
"We've still got enough players who have played enough footy and enough of a balance of youth and experience to get us through.”