Just days out from the NSW VB Blues' emphatic 28-4 victory over the Maroons, several Origin stars backed up to perform admirably for their NRL sides in Round 13.
The pressure of playing both State of Origin and club Rugby League within a short timeframe is one of the many challenges of representative football and luckily for VB Blues players, none were required to lace up the boots until Saturday night. That first came when the Dragons hosted the Wests Tigers, with the likes of Tyson Frizell and Josh Dugan taking on Aaron Woods and James Tedesco at ANZ Stadium; all four were impressive, with Frizell in particular close to the best on ground before leaving the field with a rib complaint after 56 minutes. The Dragons enforcer was taken to hospital as a precautionary measure, with scans yet to reveal the extent of his injury.
As the two fullbacks faced off Tedesco had a fine individual performance, but opposite number Dugan had the last laugh as the Dragons prevailed 16-12. As for the Tigers' skipper Woods, he was exceptional in a losing outfit, second only to Martin Taupau in offloads (4) and to Trent Merrin in running metres (198) among NSW-eligible forwards on the weekend.
That match was followed by the Roosters' clash with the Broncos, where Boyd Cordner was in fine form to get one over the likes of Maroons Sam Thaiday, Matt Gillett and Josh McGuire for the second time consecutively. In a game lacking Mitchell Pearce and Anthony Milford, the Roosters co-captain scored late in each half to earn Man of the Match honours and provoke some high praise from coach Trent Robinson.
"He needs to be lauded for what he did out there tonight," Robinson said immediately following the 18-16 victory. "He broke open the game to score that try in the first half and then [scored again] to take it away to that 12-point lead in the second half.
"It's just an incredible performance – what a week!"
While those highlighted the best performances from VB Blues representatives in Round 13, three men on the extended bench for Origin I were also solid for their respective clubs. Jordan McLean, returning to the bench in Friday's match-up with the Knights, managed 141 metres from just 13 runs and 35 minutes - numbers he has regularly achieved to find himself in Laurie Daley's considerations. Jack de Belin's 41 tackles for just one miss were solid as usual for the Dragons, while Matt Moylan was the star of the show as the Panthers demolished the Bulldogs at ANZ Stadium, taking complete control in his first NRL appearance at five-eighth. After wearing the no.6 for the VB Blues in Game Three last year, the Panthers captain now has two impressive showings from as many games in the halves throughout his professional Rugby League career.
While big names Mitchell Pearce, Brett Morris, Nathan Peats, James Maloney, Andrew Fifita, Wade Graham and Jack Bird did not take the field on the weekend - due to both byes and injury concerns - all will be hoping to return for their clubs in Round 14, with final decisions on fitness to be made later in the week.