In early February, Boyd Cordner went down at Roosters training with a pectoral injury and was set to be out of action for three months, putting a huge dent in his Origin hopes well before the season had even begun.
He was forced to watch his already depleted side go down in five consecutive games, and by the time he returned on ANZAC Day against the Dragons, the pressure was on him, Jared Waerea-Hargreaves and eventually Mitchell Pearce to inspire such a young side and get their season back on track.
While things certainly have not gone to plan since then, Cordner was one of the best players on the field in a losing side last week against the Bulldogs, and his individual performances this season have been positive leading into State of Origin.
“[The injury] was sort of the unknown for me,” Cordner told NSWRL.com.au.
“I tore my pec just before the season started and I didn’t know how long I was going to be out for and the time-frame, it was a bit touch and go.
“I knew if I could get back and get a few games under my belt and play some good footy, I’d do my best to put the front foot forward and get selected again.”
Playing good football is something Cordner is certainly doing in his short time back, and while his focus is solely on Origin at the moment, he admits that when he returns for the Roosters that every game is going to count like never before.
“It hasn’t been the best start to the year for us, there’s not many more second chances, we have got to start winning some football games,” Cordner said.
“I’ve been pretty happy with how I’ve come back from injury and been performing, so obviously the match fitness is probably the one thing that’s been pretty hard to get used to.
“I’m 100 per cent now, the body is feeling really good and fresh at this time of year, its pretty different, but I’m looking forward to it.”
Still on poor performances, as much as they do not want to think about it, Cordner and the players cannot and will not forget the embarrassing Game III match last year.
“It was very disappointing how we went up there and played in Game III so there’s going to have to be some boys who are going to have to be hungry,” Cordner said.
“The first game is at home in Sydney so we’re looking to get back out there and make amends.”
One of the major positives of being in camp for Cordner is re-uniting with his old team-mate James Maloney, who is busy forming new combinations with a pair of fresh faces in Matt Moylan and Adam Reynolds.
“I’m pretty close with Jimmy when he was at the Roosters, he’s a legend of a bloke and deserves his selection, I can’t wait to play with him,” Cordner said.
“There are some pretty exciting players here, I’ve played with Matty [Moylan] but I haven’t played with Adam Reynolds before.
“He’s a great player, [his kicking game] is awesome, especially at Origin level and we’re going to need that. He’s tough, he brings a whole new skill set, and he’s a tough player as well so he will fit in really nicely.”
Cordner had played five games for the VB Blues, all from the bench with only the one victory.
He will run out in the starting side for the first time next Wednesday, which hopefully will be the spark to increase that 20 per cent winning rate.