Elusive Cotric doing his best to dodge Origin hype
Canberra winger Nick Cotric can't sidestep speculation suggesting he's in line for a surprise call-up to the NSW Blues squad but he's taking it in his stride.
The humble teenager has been a revelation in his short time in the Telstra Premiership, quickly establishing himself as one of the best finishers in the game since making his debut at the start of the 2017 season.
Cotric has raced to 19 tries in 33 games for Canberra, with new Blues coach Brad Fittler saying the youngster would be right at home in the Holden State of Origin cauldron.
"Since I was little kid it was always a dream of mine to pull that Blues jersey on," Cotric said.
"I remember watching it as a kid, with the family and friends watching Origin, so it would definitely be a dream of mine."
Cotric said he had not been approached by anybody in the Blues camp about the possibility of playing in 2018. However, he backed himself to play on one of the biggest stages in rugby league if the fateful phone call did come.
"I'd definitely take the chance with both hands because it's a good opportunity, but I'm just focused on this weekend's game," he said.
"I don't really focus on that, I just focus on the Raiders and how I perform every week for the club, that's the main thing."
Canberra will be aiming for five wins in six games when they host a Cronulla side without some of its biggest names in the forwards.
Paul Gallen is hoping to return from a knee injury along with Jayson Bukuya, but Cronulla will be without Wade Graham and Scott Sorensen for the contest which has sparked a heated rivalry which intensified after the Sharks' preliminary final win at GIO Stadium in 2016.
Elliott Whitehead said Canberra's forwards knew they had to set the platform in the early minutes if the Raiders were to continue their resurgence.
"(Gallen) does a lot of work and he's one of their key men going forward so we have to focus on stopping him," Whitehead said.
"He's got a good offload in his game, but they've got other good players too, (Andrew) Fifita plays off the back of Gallen too. We need to perform, there's no good in us winning two and then dropping off we need to be consistent."
Canberra have undergone their own changes this week, with Junior Paulo ruled out for at least two months with a foot injury.
"We'll definitely miss Junior, he's going to be a big loss for us, but Shannon Boyd had a great game last week, so he probably deserves that starting spot," Whitehead said.
Cotric could be lining up against former under 20s teammate Jack Williams this weekend, with the Canberra winger jokingly admitting me might try and "put a shot on" during the game if the Cronulla reserve forward survives the bench cull.
"He's a great player, a strong ball-runner and he'll go well (because) he's a good player a good person off the field and one of my good mates," Cotric said.
Witness Australia's greatest sporting rivalry when Origin comes to the Melbourne Cricket Ground on Wednesday, June 6. Tickets available at NRL.com/tickets