State of Origin ambitions will be put on the backburner until the Canberra Raiders can find the winning spark needed to stay in the NRL's top four, prop Josh Papalii says.
Papalii will almost certainly be named in Queensland's side for the Origin opener on June 5, with NSW and the Maroons to finalise their teams after club games this weekend.
The looming Origin series will dominate talk this week as players try to impress, including a trio of Raiders who are hoping to become Canberra's first NSW representatives since 2013.
But Papalii says the Raiders can't afford to get caught in the hype of Origin scenarios after back to back losses, which have put them in danger of losing touch with the competition's leading three teams.
"We've lost two on the trot now and we don't want to make it three," said Papalii, a veteran of 12 Origin matches.
"I'm not really focused on [Origin], I'm trying to put my best foot forward for the Raiders and hopefully we play well because we need the win.
"When [Origin week] comes around I do sort of [feel a lift], but anything can happen in one week."
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Papalii was one of Queensland's stand-out performers in game three of the series last year and his permanent move to the Raiders' front row has helped him take his game to new heights this season.
He is in the NRL's top 10 for post-contact metres this year, has made 18 tackle breaks and is averaging 132.6 metres per game this season.
The challenge this week is matching up against a frightening North Queensland Cowboys forward pack at Canberra Stadium on Sunday, lining up against Jason Taumalolo and Origin veteran Matt Scott.
"[Scott] is very experienced. He's been there and done a lot in the game ... a lot of people talk about his age taking a toll but I honestly didn't see that last week. He's going to be a big threat and we've got to contain that," Papalii said.
Jarrod Croker, Nick Cotric and Jack Wighton have all been mentioned in Blues' selection conversations this year, with NSW searching for someone to fill the right centre role and a utility player for the bench.
The Raiders have largely been ignored by NSW coaches in the past five years, refusing to pick any Canberra players since Blake Ferguson was in the capital.
Cotric was on the NSW fringes last year and has moved to the Raiders' centre position to replace the injured Joey Leilua, while there has been a fan-driven push for Croker to get a call up and Wighton offers the ability to play every position from fullback to five-eighth. "If I do get that opportunity, I'd take it with both hands. I'm sure I'd be ready to go, but we have to wait and see because there's a lot of good players there," Croker said.
Cowboys hooker Jake Granville avoided suspension this week, giving him a chance to stake his case for Queensland selection while Josh McGuire is hoping to make his comeback from a calf injury in time for Origin.
NRL ROUND 11
Saturday: Canberra Raiders v North Queensland Cowboys at Canberra Stadium, 3pm. Tickets available from Ticketek.
Raiders: 1. Charnze Nicoll-Klokstad, 2. Bailey Simonsson, 3. Jarrod Croker, 4. Nick Cotric, 5. Michael Oldfield, 6. Jack Wighton, 7. Sam Williams, 8. Josh Papalii, 9. Josh Hodgson (c), 10. Dunamis Lui, 11. Hudson Young, 12. Elliott Whitehead, 13. Ryan Sutton. Interchange from: 14. Siliva Havili, 15. Joe Tapine, 16. Sia Soliola, 17. Corey Horsburgh, 18. Aidan Sezer, 19. Emre Guler, 20. Sebastian Kris, 21. Royce Hunt.
Cowboys: 1. Jordan Kahu, 2. Kyle Feldt, 3. Justin O'Neill, 4. Tom Opacic, 5. Gideon Gela-Mosby, 6. John Asiata, 7. Michael Morgan, 8. Matt Scott, 9. Jake Granville, 10. Jordan McLean, 11. Gavin Cooper, 12. Coen Hess, 13. Jason Taumalolo. Interchange from: 14. Kurt Baptiste, 15. Mitchell Dunn, 16. Scott Bolton, 17. Francis Molo, 18. Corey Jensen, 19. Shane Wright, 20. Josh McGuire, 21. Jake Clifford.