Andrew Fifita has lobbed the first verbal volley in the State of Origin war of words, warning a beaten-up Queensland - "this is our year."
Highlighting his desire to win a State of Origin series - the only winners' medal that has eluded him in his career - a candid Fifita said there is no jersey he takes for granted as he prepares to lead Laurie Daley's front-row rotation for NSW.
Set to be without Greg Inglis, Matt Scott and possibly Johnathan Thurston, there is a growing belief south of the border that the Maroons' decade of dominance - they've won 10 of the last 11 series - is coming to an end. And Fifita can sense it.
"They're a quality team," Fifita said. "I'll never speak bad [of Queensland] as they've always got depth and there's a lot of belief in their team.
"[But] I think as a New South Welshman this is our year and an opportunity to take it with both hands. It's going to come down to who wants it more. In saying that there's belief and it's up to Loz to pick the right team to do the job.
"I've never won an Origin [series] before and I just want to be a part of it. In '14 I was injured all the time and I just want to be a part of it. The atmosphere is great and the last thing on my bucket list is to win [an] Origin [series]."
Fifita would have been forgiven for thinking his days in sky blue were numbered after his brain snap in the dead rubber last year - when he rushed in to accost Gavin Cooper during a Queensland try celebration - marred NSW's face-saving win.
But he will be one of the first players picked by Daley after tormenting the Cowboys in the Sharks' scrappy win on Thursday night with a simplified game.
"I don't take any jersey for granted," Fifita said. "I've felt the Aussie jersey get taken away from me, I've felt the Origin jersey get taken away from me before. I just know how much it means to me.
"My game's simple now - I'm getting older and a bit more wiser - it's just about running hard and trying to break the defence. If you need me to [create] ... I've got it in my back pocket."
Fifita's Sharks teammate James Maloney is another lock for the series opener on May 31, but his halves partner has been shrouded in uncertainty.
One-time NSW whipping boy Mitchell Pearce is firming to wear the No.7 again and reunite with his premiership-winning teammate at the Roosters.
"He is a deep thinker so I don't know how [the constant debate] gets to him," Maloney said. "But the guys who play with him week in, week out, they love playing with him.
"And I know everyone looks at the past but players develop. They get more seasoned, more comfortable. The big games, big moments you're involved in the better you get at dealing with those occasions. I think Mitch is better suited than ever right now.
"Obviously people look at the fact he's played a few without success. But he's played against an incredible Queensland side. And he's been shouldered with a lot of blame that hasn't been completely his. But the sort of bloke Mitch is, he isn't about pointing at anyone else.
"He looks settled. I think outside of footy, too, he's settled [and] calm. His efforts on the paddock are doing the talking."
Maloney shadowed Cooper Cronk and Thurston in Mal Meninga's Kangaroos squad for the Anzac Test and knows the Maroons haven't struggled with injuries leading into a series opener like this for many years.
"Queensland haven't been in situation like this," Maloney said. "They've always been stable with their side. But in saying that, it's not going to make them any easier. They have a lot of guys who've played a lot of footy together, know each other inside out. We all need to be at our best."