A 2016 ruined by injury had long-serving Blues winger Brett Morris fearing he may have played his last ever State of Origin match.
The 30-year-old's decorated 18-Test, 12-Origin career looked over when a persistent knee injury put him out of the first 15 weeks of the season. It also coincided with the representative emergence or re-emergence of fellow Blues flankers Josh Mansour and Blake Ferguson, plus a breakout season for young flyer Tom Trbojevic.
"I was thinking whether or not I'd played my last game, to be perfectly honest," Morris said this week.
"And even coming into the start of this year, I was probably thinking that as well. But in saying that, you've got to back yourself and try and play good footy. That's the mentality I've always had, just let the footy do the talking."
Morris is under no illusions that had Trbojevic not suffered a serious ankle injury in a nasty tackle from Brisbane's David Mead leading into the Origin series then the young Sea Eagle would have likely been picked alongside Ferguson as the Blues wing pairing.
"Obviously with a few injuries to guys that probably would've been [picked], it's disappointing for them," Morris said.
"But it gives me a chance to put on the jersey again and you need to perform if you want to stay in this jersey. There's a lot of young guy that are coming through the ranks that are wonderful young footballers who are looking for an opportunity."
Regardless of the circumstances leading to his recall, Morris said it was "very exciting" to be given another chance.
"I missed last year's series through injury and had a bit of a rough year last year," he said.
"Obviously it was a fairly extensive [injury], it took a lot of rehab. It's all good now and it still needs monitoring and the training loads get changed every now and then, but it hasn't affected my football this year and certainly I've enjoyed playing week in, week out."
The management of the injury led to Morris sitting out the Blues' initial field session on Wednesday but doesn't seem to have hampered him since.
"Laurie has shown a lot of faith in my by selecting me and as a result I want to repay the faith," he said.
"I love coming into Origin… I feel that whenever I play for the Blues I try my hardest and one thing you want to do in this jersey is not let the people down in this side and the state."
Morris has arguably more proof than any available player of his determination to put his body on the line for the cause; he along with twin brother Josh etched his name into Origin folklore in the Blues' historic series win in 2014.
Brett fractured a shoulder early on in Game One, scoring the first of his team's two tries, but played out the game – putting that shoulder through agony to make a ball-and-all match-saving tackle on a try-bound Darius Boyd as Queensland pressed to steal a gritty 12-8 win. Josh rose up from the turf with a ruptured PCL to make a tackle on a breakaway Greg Inglis in the same game.
"That was the 100th game of Origin and it was a big occasion," Morris recalled.
"Obviously it's not ideal getting injured in an Origin game, but a lot of people had lost faith in the Blues jersey and we wanted to show how much it meant to us.
"Playing injured isn't ideal, but it's about not letting your teammates down.
"That's the biggest mentality we have as Blues players… you're not only there to represent your team, but the players in the past who would've done exactly the same thing.
"It's about not letting anyone down and representing your state and I thought that night, really typified that."
This article first appeared on NRL.com