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Forgotten NSW State of Origin prop Matt Prior has made the frank admission that his current form doesn’t warrant a call-up for Game 1 just yet.
Prior was a shock selection for Game 2 last year, which resulted in the Blues finally breaking a drought-breaking series triumph.
However, the Cronulla front-rower was overlooked for Game 3 and has hardly been mentioned as the race for spots in this year’s series-opener heats up.
And the 31-year-old believes there’s a good reason why.
“I would love to play, but you’ve got to be playing good footy for your club and I wouldn’t say my form is warranting that at the moment,” Prior told AAP.
“But next three weeks, you play some good footy and you never know.”
Prior has started in every game for the seventh-placed Sharks this season, averaging 99 metres from ten runs per game, along with 24 tackles.
It is not far from the 107 metres he was averaging before being handed his debut as a replacement for the injured Reagan Campbell-Gillard last year.
But despite his solid play, Prior is adamant his form could improve.
“I just don’t think I’m playing as good as I could be playing,” he said.
“I think I could be playing a lot better, and just slowly building. I think hopefully I can just keep getting better each week.”
Blues coach Brad Fittler opted for Tariq Sims in last year’s dead rubber, but is likely to be on the lookout for another middle to replace Jack de Belin.
De Belin has yet to play this year after being sidelined under the NRL’s controversial no-fault stand-down policy for players facing criminal charges.
North Queensland prop Jordan McLean, Brisbane forward Payne Haas and South Sydney lock Cameron Murray have all been touted as possible options.
Having made his Origin debut last year, Prior said he has enjoyed stepping up in a leadership capacity over the opening months due to their injury concerns.
“That’s what you’ve got to do when you’re missing a bit of experience,” he said.
“I enjoy trying to step up where I can, when we lose blokes like (Aaron) Woods, (Matt Moylan) and Shaun (Johnson).
“Their leadership around the club is awesome and not having that around, other blokes have to step up and take a bit of a role.”