By his own admission, simply cracking the Cronulla starting side will be a battle for Ben Barba.
However, the 26-year-old is backing himself to not only snap up the Sharks No.1 jersey but also a Queensland jumper in 2016.
Barba believes he is closer than ever to recapturing his 2012 Dally M Medal-winning form after being pitted with Valentine Holmes and Jack Bird in a fight for the Cronulla fullback spot this pre-season.
“Obviously all I have trained is at fullback, that’s my best position – I won a Dally M there,” Barba told AAP.
“Even though I am battling out with two young guys there, all I can do is play my best footy in the trials and see what happens.”
Competition may be tough for starting spots under Sharks coach Shane Flanagan but Barba said he was finding his inspiration from within – not over his shoulder.
“I feed off my own energy. I love this game,” he said.
“Having young guns in the side is always good but I wouldn’t be playing this game if I was not able to motivate myself.
“This pre-season I was really able to knuckle down in my training.”
After chiming into the NRL Auckland Nines, Barba gets his next chance to impress for the Indigenous All Stars under Laurie Daley at Suncorp Stadium on Saturday night.
But Barba hoped he would be lining up against Daley later in the year – in State of Origin.
Queensland’s depth will be tested this year after a total of eight young guns copped 12 month Origin bans for breaking curfew under new coach Kevin Walters at an Emerging Maroons camp.
Barba said he was ready to step up for the Maroons against Daley’s NSW Blues.
“That’s always the dream. I would love to get back to that contention again,” Barba said of Origin selection.
“But I have to play some good footy for the Sharks first and then go from there.
“I am not too old. I am not too far down the track yet.
“Hopefully I can find that form again. I want to put my name up there again.”
Barba did not need too much motivation to shine for the Indigenous side – especially with renewed speculation over the All Stars concept’s future.
“It’s always a real honour coming into the camp,” he said.
“This is an opportunity to represent my family and my people – for me words can’t describe it.
“Playing it in Brisbane is a step in the right direction – the attendance here has always been good.
“Hopefully the 40,000-plus fans who are expected, we can put a good show on for them.”