Gold Coast Titans lock Jai Arrow, the most impressive Queensland middle-forward in the first eight rounds of 2018, is adamant team-mate Jarrod Wallace should remain ahead of him in the Origin pecking order.
Arrow has been nothing short of phenomenal and he was again outstanding in Gold Coast's 10-9 loss to the Sharks, running for 194 metres and making 38 tackles in his 58 minutes on the field.
The 22-year-old moved to the Gold Coast from the Broncos in a carbon-copy career move to the one Wallace made last season. Both are Gold Coast juniors who came home after becoming typecast as interchange men in Brisbane, wanting to make their mark as middle men who could play long stretches of quality football.
Wallace, 26, made his Origin debut for Queensland in Game Two last year, such was his form in his first handful of games for the Titans, and Arrow has been equally impressive this year.
Yet he admits, for now, he should remain in Wallace's shadow, although he'd love to one day play alongside his mate in a maroon jersey.
"Jarrod did a great job last year for the Origin team, and I hope he is there this year. I think he should be a step ahead of me," Arrow said.
"I'm only a young guy who has come down from Brisbane to prove myself and play long minutes. I am more worried about the Titans and what we do here, and I have never really thought about Origin.
"Jay-Wal [Wallace] was a big part of the reason I came down to the club and I look up to him as the leader of the pack. He came down from Brisbane and played outstanding footy and he got that opportunity in Origin and took it with both hands.
"My sole focus is to play good footy for the Titans, I'm a pretty straight forward guy who just knuckles down with the job I have in front of me.
"I'm enjoying my footy, I'm loving every minute I'm getting. I have looked at what Jay-Wal has done and it's a pretty big boost for not only him, but me as well. I really like seeing my mates do well and I try to jump on the back of that."
Wallace reciprocated the admiration and says if 22-year-old Arrow was being considered by Maroons selectors, he would handle the step up.
"He is playing very good footy and if the selectors thought he deserved selection and he could do a job they need him to do, that's up to Kevvie Walters," Wallace said.
"I hope I'm there after playing last year but if they choose him in front of me, that's their choice. He's been nothing but outstanding in every game. Tonight he hurt his back and they pretty much had to prize him off the field. It's such a testament to him that he put in such a big effort and without a doubt he deserves a Queensland jumper in the future."
Wallace says the ability of the pair to instantly step up and play long minutes was as much a power of the mind, as a physical adaption.
"We just knew we could do it; it's a mindset," he said. "At Brisbane, we didn't have to do it but we knew we could. We'd done it in Queensland Cup and under-20s. We have both worked our arses off to get where we are and handle the extra demands."
It was two big plays by Arrow in the final 10 minutes that almost won the Titans the match. He charged down a Chad Townsend kick and Konrad Hurrell almost gained possession after the ball rebounded upfield 20 metres. Then a 25-metre drive upfield by Arrow gave the Titans field position for Ash Taylor to level the scores at 9-9 with a field goal.
"Jai's effort tonight was the epitome of the Anzac round and what it means," said Wallace. "He put his body on the line right to the end, working for his mates no matter how tired he was."