Euan Aitken is revelling in his golden chance to seal a NSW jersey ahead of a showdown with South Sydney and Queensland legend Greg Inglis on Sunday.
Aitken has been in devastating form this year and a big reason behind St George Illawarra’s ascent to NRL ladder leaders and premiership favourites.
In the opening nine rounds he’s crossed for seven tries – the third most in the competition.
His head-to-head battle with Inglis will be a tantalising sub-plot to Sunday’s clash between the Dragons and fifth-placed Bunnies at ANZ Stadium.
Aitken put his name well and truly in the Origin frame when he ran past Inglis for a try in the Red V’s 16-12 win over South Sydney in round five earlier in the year.
“He’s doing pretty much what he’s been told to, he’s playing exceptional footy,” Inglis said.
“There’s no get-square, if I focus on that, it just goes away from the rest of what I’ve got to focus on.”
Maroons stalwart Inglis is on track for an Origin return after a knee injury wiped him out for all but 58 minutes of 2017.
He was slow out of the blocks and Inglis said he’d grown since being shown up by Aitken last month.
“I just feel like I’m growing each and every week, coming back from an ACL, it does take time,” Inglis said.
Greg Inglis. Photo: AAP Image/Darren Pateman
While for Aitken, he’s going about his business with a swagger that will not go unnoticed by Blues coach Brad Fittler.
In Sunday’s 34-14 romp over premiers Melbourne, he charged over for two decisive tries.
“I’m confident in my ability that if I get my chances I’m going to come away with a win there and come away with a try-scoring opportunity or a try,” Aitken said.
“I back myself in one-on-one situations and I’ve got good self belief at the moment.”
Asked if he was revelling in the challenge of the one-on-one contest, such as the one he will enter into with Inglis on Sunday, he said: “One hundred per cent, I love that battle.
“It makes you a better player and that’s what I want to keep doing – improving and keep getting better at my game.”