James’ to show what Blues missed out on
RYAN James has spoken of his devastation following Brad Fittler's Blues backflip as Titans coach Garth Brennan challenged his captain to dominate the Burgess brothers.
James will confront South Sydney at Cbus Super Stadium on Friday night with a point to prove following his heartbreaking Origin snub.
The 26-year-old prop was selected in an extended NSW squad, sent an itinerary and had packed his bags to head to Sydney to join his first Origin camp.
But a big performance by Bulldogs prop David Klemmer on the eve of selection saw Blues coach Fittler backflip on James' selection.
Fittler called James to explain his decision and the Gold Coast skipper said he had been motivated by the embarrassing turn of events.
"Freddie ended up giving me a call and telling me a couple of things I had to work on," James said.
"I was obviously disappointed in what happened but in the next two weeks I will try to prove a point.
"I was devastated at the time but it was reassuring to get the phone call from him.
"There were still a couple of games to go and a couple of players ended up playing some pretty good footy and I got pushed out.
"You can't dwell on it. There are a lot of worse things to happen in the world.
"It's a long series. People have to go back to club games and get through injury free. I'm always hopeful.
"I need to be a bit more aggressive, line speed and making sure you're winning your runs and play-the-balls, everything an Origin player requires."
James will get no greater test than the in-form Rabbitohs and their star forward pack.
The Burgess brothers - Sam, Tom and George - have been in sensational form and in 2014 they blew James and the Titans away.
James is facing an uphill battle to break into the NSW team following their Origin I win on Wednesday night but he is clearly in the sights of Blues selectors.
Brennan said James had the ultimate opportunity to press his claims against the Rabbitohs' powerful forward pack.
"If there was an injury, Ryan needs to be putting his best foot forward," he said.
"He was disappointed, but the call from Freddie really gave him the excitement and realisation he's not far away from an Origin berth.
"With that in the back of his mind, I'm sure there is no bigger challenge than the Burgess boys to go out there and really stamp your authority.
"It's a good chance for him to show Freddie if there is an injury between now and Origin II he is ready to go and hasn't dropped his bottom lip and is sulking."
Maroons forwards Jai Arrow and Jarrod Wallace are expected to back-up for the Titans while South Sydney's Origin trio Greg Inglis, Angus Crichton and Damien Cook travelled to the Gold Coast.
Cook was sensational for the Blues in his Origin debut, racking up 53 tackles and tearing the Maroons apart with his speed from dummy-half.
He will come up against Titans hooker Nathan Peats, who played all three Origins for the Blues last year but was overlooked in favour of Cook.
"I don't think Peatsy dwells on it too much," Brennan said.
"I'm sure he will be determined to go out there and put a good performance in, mainly for the Titans more so than himself.
"He has been fantastic for our team this year. He has really put the team first.
"I'm sure he will go out there determined to get the result for the Titans more so than getting one over Cook."