Jarome Luai is glad Penrith lost to arch-rivals Parramatta three weeks ago.
And over the next seven weeks, NSW fans - even Panthers ones - may be happy they did too.
Luai will have his final hit out before State of Origin I on Friday night against North Queensland, with the young star among eight Panthers in the mix for NSW selection.
Alongside five certainties - Brian To'o, Isaah Yeo, Liam Martin, Nathan Cleary and Luai - the likes of Stephen Crichton, Moses Leota and Apisai Koroisau will have their last chances to impress.
Regardless of how many Panthers join him in Brad Fittler's squad, Luai can be confident he will enter the Origin series in peak form.
And the five-eighth claims he owes much of it to Penrith's loss to the Eels on May 6, which was their first defeat at home since August 2019.
"It was a bit of a wake-up call for me ... I think losing does that to you," Luai told AAP, acknowledging such events have been rare in recent seasons.
"We are winning games and we try and learn as well when we're winning.
"But a loss just hits different. It makes you look in the mirror. I had that and needed to work on my game.
"I'm a big believer in everything happens for a reason. I am glad that it happened."
Penrith's defeat that night marked just Luai's fourth in almost two years, and was his first in the regular season without Cleary beside him since round five, 2020.
The lesson from his introspection was clear: He had to get back to running the ball.
He took the line on just four times against Gold Coast the round previous, before running five times in the loss to the Eels.
The 25-year-old's numbers since have been telling.
He was Penrith's best against Melbourne and the Sydney Roosters in the past two weeks, as the Panthers made a big premiership statement.
In those games he ran the ball a combined 18 times, busted 10 tackles, broke the line twice, scored two tries and also had two assists.
In fact, in the past fortnight he has run the ball more than at any other point in the past two seasons.
And it has come just in time for Origin.
"It's probably just a mindset thing from that loss," Luai said.
"Just to run the ball. Get tackled. I enjoy the physicality of the game and that is when I am at my best.
"Just getting in there and helping the boys out. Whether it's just a simple carry out of dummy-half that gets me in the game.
"In the loss against Parra. I thought I shied away from that game and I didn't play the way I wanted to.
"But I am back at it now."
Australian Associated Press
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