After overcoming initial fears of being dropped from Laurie Daley's New South Wales side, Blues enforcer James Tamou has declared that Origin III is "do-or-die" for his state representative career.
Tamou was a shell of himself in Queensland's series-deciding win over the Blues a fortnight ago where he managed a mere four runs for 33 metres.
With skipper Paul Gallen shifting to the front row to allow for the debut of Sharks teammate Wade Graham, Tamou has been named on the bench and will compete for minutes with fellow front-rowers Andrew Fifita and David Klemmer.
While discussing his last start Origin performance, Daley told Tamou to concentrate on the one-percenters to ensure he's doing right by New South Wales.
"If I'm not playing well enough to be in the side then I'll be the first one to put my hand up and say so," Tamou said.
"I spoke to Loz about [my own performance in Game Two] and he just said I did a lot of work that was unseen. But I know I can do a lot more and I know I need to, to make an impact.
"Origin is one of those things you always want to be a part of and I'm taking this game as a bit of a do-or-die for next year.
"Now I'm trying to make a difference in other ways on the field in terms of kick chase, being first in tackles and other little stuff like that. (Prop Aaron) Woodsy was unreal with the ball so I'm happy to give him a hit-up if he provides quick play-the-balls."
Winger Blake Ferguson agreed with Tamou's sentiment and said having conjecture over positions makes for a more competitive Blues side.
"This is a game to build into the future. It's really good to have doubt over whether you're going to be in the team because it means there's a lot of talent around," Ferguson said.
"There's a big talent pool in New South Wales so to be in the Origin team, among the best 17 players in the state, it is fine being named in the team but you need to perform as well."
Tamou only allowed himself a brief moment to compliment Queensland in light of Cowboys teammate Gavin Cooper's Origin debut.
"I'm stoked for him," Tamou said. "He works so hard and now it's finally getting looked at and he's getting the rewards from it.
"I sent him a text a couple of days ago but I think it ends there now for me and him. It's business as usual now.
"I'll belt him on the field if I get the chance."
This article first appeared on NRL.com
There’s no better way to support the NSW VB Blues than by being there – and by being a part of The Star-backed Blatchys Blues. Click here to purchase tickets and to secure a seat to witness history. Don’t forget, for all the latest on the VB Blues and State of Origin, download the official NSWRL app and make www.NSWRL.com.au your homepage.