North Queensland's NRL form surge has thrust numerous Cowboys players into the mix for possible Queensland State of Origin selection.
One of them, teenage rookie Jeremiah Nanai, who leads the NRL in tries by a forward this season with eight, confirmed on Wednesday that he'd received a call from new Queensland coach Billy Slater.
Nanai said Slater told him to keep competing hard and doing the one percenter's right.
"I'm just taking it all on board and it gives me more motivation to hopefully put that jersey on," he said.
Nanai is far from the only North Queenland player catching Slater's eye, with the Maroons great recently labelling the Cowboys a "serious team" and mentioning youngsters Heilum Luki, Tom Dearden and Reuben Cotter and seasoned campaigners Valentine Holmes and Kyle Feldt among those performing well.
Winger and aerial specialist Feldt, who debuted for the Maroons in 2021, says there's an excitement around the club as the Cowboys' youngsters put themselves into Origin contention.
Cotter, Nanai, Luki and Murray Taulagi are all potential bolters for Queensland who are enjoying their most successful seasons in the NRL
On Wednesday, Feldt joked that it's "not good" because he expects the club to be ransacked when Origin comes around.
"But on a personal level for them it's really good and on a club level it's good to see that our coaching staff and our players are really buying into the way we want to play, and they're getting the recognition as well," he said.
Speedster Hamiso Tabuai-Fidow debuted in the centres for Queensland last year and scored a try in the side that beat NSW on the Gold Coast to cancel out a series sweep.
The 20-year-old who started the year at fullback said it's been a different experience coming off the bench since recovering from a PCL injury, but is happy to do what's best for his club.
With Scott Drinkwater excelling at fullback, Tabuai-Fidow was crossing his fingers his relative lack of game time wouldn't hinder his Origin prospects.
"I hope not," said Tabuai-Fidow.
"I do want to get into that Origin arena again like I did last year.
"Still got a couple of weeks to go, so just sit back and see what happens and how the selection goes."
He added that playing centre, wing and fullback for his club showed Slater his versatility but he was also rapt with the attention his teammates were getting.
"They're all playing good footy and we're all gelling together," he said.
"The whole back five, I give a wrap to them. They are doing so good for us and it shows on the field."
Australian Associated Press
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