Nicho Hynes says he has no real inkling where he ranks in the NSW State of Origin pecking order.
But the in-form Cronulla playmaker knows one thing: he's never been more ready to pull on a Blues jersey.
Second in the Dally M after piloting the Sharks into the top four, Hynes has captured the attention of NSW coach Brad Fittler and shapes as a perfect bench player for the series opener against Queensland in Sydney on June 8.
"I feel like I'm probably playing some of the best footy I've played, I've got that utility value if Freddie needs and I don't think I've ever been more ready to put my hand up for it," Hynes said on Thursday.
Fittler will name his team for Origin I on Sunday night and Hynes - equally at home playing fullback, five-eighth or halfback - isn't afraid to publicly throw his hat in the ring.
"It's in my mind, obviously. Every kid dreams of putting on the sky blue jersey and I would absolutely love to do it and I would do my best for the state if I did," he said.
"But there's other great players with utility value too and there's players who have done it before so fingers crossed but (Sydney) Roosters first this Saturday night and Indigenous Round so I'm ready for that.
"My sole focus is the Cronulla Sharks. If I'm not playing good footy for the Cronulla Sharks, then my name wouldn't be being thrown up in contention.
"So it would be remiss of me if I didn't worry about the Sharks first."
Proving the buy of the season, Hynes has been a revelation since moving from Melbourne to Cronulla.
He raised eyebrows when declaring he wanted the Sharks' No.7 jumper after impressing at the Storm at fullback and five-eighth.
"I'm really enjoying playing the halves again. I feel like halfback is my best position," Hynes said.
"I knew I could play this sort of footy. It just would have taken time. Maybe it has come a bit quicker, maybe it hasn't.
"I love wearing No.7, leading the team around and I'm just really enjoying my footy at the moment.
"But I've just got to keep focused on my performance each week and not worry about any outside noise."
Despite that "outside noise" growing louder and louder, the 25-year-old insisted he hadn't spoken to Fittler about any Origin call-up in 2022.
"He probably talks to his main players or senior players more about that. I'm still a little dog at this," Hynes said.
"I've seen Freddie on the sidelines and he's told me I'm going well but nothing to do with Origin.
"But hopefully I'll get the call and see how we go."
Australian Associated Press
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