Canberra Raiders five-eighth Jack Wighton's burning desire to play at State of Origin level has been given a boost as a form and injury crisis grounds his teammates and rivals alike.
Chances to prove himself don't come much bigger than they do this week - Wighton will lock horns with two of the best in the business when Canberra meet the Sydney Roosters at Suncorp Stadium on Sunday.
Roosters duo Cooper Cronk and Luke Keary have set the benchmark for halves pairings and the latter is firming for the NSW Blues' No. 6 jersey.
It means the versatile Wighton's best chance will come on the bench or at right centre for June 5's series opener against Queensland at Suncorp Stadium.
Incumbent centre James Roberts has been dropped to reserve grade while his Brisbane teammate Jack Bird has suffered a season-ending knee injury, and Raiders hopeful Joey Leilua is recovering from neck surgery.
Wighton and Canberra skipper Jarrod Croker could both find themselves in the mix - although the Raiders captain would need to shift to the other side of the park to make an Origin debut.
"I'd love to be back in the mix for Origin, you can only take that as a positive," Wighton said.
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"It's every kid's dream so you just have to take it as it comes. I'd love to be anywhere on that park and in that kind of arena."
While he won't wear the No. 6 in the Origin arena, Wighton's injection into the discussion suggests Canberra coach Ricky Stuart's decision to shift him from fullback has been a major success.
The move into the halves saw Wighton study his rivals intently in a bid to build his arsenal - this weekend's counterparts included.
"You take in a little bit of everyone. You've got to have a look at what everybody else is doing, but also you've got to be your own style too," Wighton said.
"That's what I've got to do. I'm a bigger five-eighth so I do it with my own style more.
"They're both class halves. Every week I'm trying to improve, and so far so good. I'll just keep at it, take baby steps, and we'll be alright."
Leilua is recovering in the intensive care unit following surgery and is expected to be moved into the ward later this week.
His likely season-ending neck surgery is a cruel blow for the Raiders centre given he had begun to force his way into the State of Origin equation after a stellar start to the season.
But the Raiders have the benefit of a ready made replacement in Michael Oldfield set to slot in against the Roosters as he looks to build on his impressive try-scoring record in lime green.
The lethal "Leipana" combination was enough to strike the fear of god into rival teams but winger Jordan Rapana laughs he won't be penning a nickname for the new-look right edge for some time yet.
"We've got to start scoring a few tries and get a combination going first," Rapana said.
"We've got a big task for me and Oldy, so we're looking forward to the challenge. [Oldfield] is his own player, BJ is his own player.
"BJ is going to be missed, we know what he can do on the field and the threat he can be in attack. But look, Oldy is a quality player that has done the job many times before in the past.
"I know he will fill those shoes, whatever is required of him, he'll do a great job. I'm looking forward to building a combination with him.
"BJ is going to be out for quite some time, so there is no better way to start than against the top of the table team in the competition.
"I spoke to [Leilua] the day before his surgery, but he would still be out to it. It would be good [to get a win for him]."