The odds of wearing a representative jersey this year seemed slim for Sydney Roosters prop Dylan Napa.
But seven months after copping a State of Origin ban, Napa has returned to the scene of his Emerging Maroons nightmare donning the green and gold.
And this time he’s determined not to let another representative chance slip.
Napa, 23, said he was proud of himself after returning to Brisbane to train with a star-studded Prime Minister’s XIII before flying out for Port Moresby on Thursday.
They play a PNG XIII on Saturday in what will be a genuine trial for a spot in the 24-strong Four Nations squad to be named next month.
“I am so proud of putting on a rep jersey again,” Napa said.
The last time Napa was in Brisbane for a representative camp it didn’t end well.
Napa was among eight players suspended from 2016 Origin duty after breaking curfew at a pre-season Emerging Maroons camp.
The eight Queenslanders were essentially punished again when Kangaroos coach Mal Meninga also honoured the Maroons ban in picking his side for May’s trans-Tasman Test.
Now, it seems all is forgiven.
Meninga picked Napa in a full strength PM’s XIII featuring Test incumbents Greg Inglis, Blake Ferguson, Semi Radradra and Josh Dugan.
“It was no secret how disappointed I was,” Napa said of his Origin ban.
“I have no one to blame but myself.
“However, I felt I have learned from that mistake.
“Now I have put myself back in a position to be selected – I am proud of that.
“The hard work starts on Saturday and I can’t wait.”
Napa finished the season strongly for the Roosters to ensure a crack at representative redemption with the Kangaroos.
He was not taking a Four Nations spot for granted but claimed a Kangaroos berth was “up for grabs” on Saturday.
“I am very honoured to be picked in this team, it’s star studded,” said Napa, who earned Queensland 18th man honours last year.
“And it’s no secret that it is a trial for the Four Nations which is a goal of mine.
“I think they have a fair idea of who is going but spots are up for grabs.”
It will mark the second trip to PNG for Napa, who made the 2014 PM’s XIII.
The sometimes lop-sided scoreline over the years may suggest otherwise, but Napa believed the PNG outfit would provide a fitting Kangaroos trial for players.
“As soon as you catch the ball there are three or four surrounding you ready to take your head off,” Napa smiled.
“They are a pretty physical team and have been developing well for the last three or four years – it will be a test.”