Ask Tom Trbojevic how in the midst of this incredible purple patch of form he can get better as a footballer and he immediately identifies the one area of his game that never makes the highlights reel.
“It’s probably a cliché but you look defensively,” Trbojevic said.
It says a lot about the Manly fullback that even after scoring three tries for the Sea Eagles, in his first game since terrorising Queensland when he scored three tries for NSW in Origin I, he thinks of defence.
Because if there’s one part of his game that nobody ever talks about it’s his defence. Marshalling his team from the back and helping plug holes from behind the defensive line.
While everybody highlights his efforts and skill with the ball in hand, his impact at Manly since coming back from hamstring injury has been how much they’ve improved defensively.
The Sea Eagles conceded 31 points per game in their six outings without him this season, that figure dropping to just 14 points per game since his return.
Crichton set to start on the bench
And while all the talk on Trbojevic after he orchestrated the 48-point second-half flogging of the Gold Coast on Sunday was about his three try assists, he couldn’t hide his disappointment at how the Titans scored their tries and why he didn’t stop them.
“I was disappointed with the first half. Five kick tries as a fullback. You pride yourself on no kick tries let alone five,” he said.
Which brings us to this week where Trbojevic has the chance to do what no NSW team has ever done before and secure the Origin shield with two victories in Queensland before they even get to play in their home state.
First Origin try: Andrew Ettingshausen
It will be the first Origin Trbojevic will play for NSW without his brother Jake in the side and just the fourth game in his rugby league career without his sibling in the team after Jake was ruled out with a hip injury.
His form is giving Maroons coach Paul Green nightmares with Queensland accepting they can’t stop Tommy Turbo, all they can do is limit his opportunities by slowing down the momentum of the other 12 men in blue who are on the field at the same time.
Trbojevic admitted his performance for the Blues in Townsville two weeks ago, where he appeared all over the park and at times linked with fellow centre Latrell Mitchell, was not part of the game plan but came about due to their dominance.
“It’s kind of just how the game went. When we were able to generate momentum you can do what you please,” Trbojevic said.
“It’s not a plan, getting me and Latrell together, it just worked out that way when I go a bit rogue.
Tedesco breaks the line to set up Trbojevic
“We were able to generate momentum, that is what you’ve got to do in footy and if you do that you may as well have a go.
“Obviously you’ve got to stay in structures and that but I like to follow the footy and that is what I did.
“We will just see how the game plays out this week but I can’t wait to get back in camp.”
Origin II in Brisbane is sold out but tickets are still on sale for game three at Stadium Australia in Sydney on July 14 - get your tickets at NRL.com/tickets.