Queensland squad member Dane Gagai says he officially feels like a member of the Maroons family after joining Mal Meninga’s side in Sanctuary Cove last week.
His time atop the representative mountain was short-lived however, with the dynamic centre returning to Newcastle for Monday night’s disappointing 31-18 defeat to Brisbane.
Just two days after flying in from the Gold Coast, Gagai ran a team-high 174 metres to go with three tackles breaks and a line break.
But it wasn’t enough to stop the Broncos comeback from an 12-point deficit and reassert their status as a premiership contender this season.
Gagai shouldered much of the blame after the loss.
“I just put it on myself,” he said.
“I started the game fine. But then in the second half, when they started getting away from us a bit, I just wasn’t really setting up and getting to where I needed to be.
“I was just running around and trying to get my hands on the ball instead of sticking to the game plan.
“It’s definitely something I can work on – if it starts getting away again, just getting back to sticking with the game plan.”
It was the Knights’ sixth loss in seven games, and Gagai said the defeat undid much of their good work in last week’s breakthrough win over the Wests Tigers.
“That’s what the worst thing was,” he said.
“I can only speak for myself but I definitely put a bit too much pressure on myself and it was just not the result we wanted.
“We definitely wanted to back up the win from last week because it was a good win and we dug real deep.”
After being welcomed into camp Maroon last week as a standby for Billy Slater and Greg Inglis, Gagai declared himself ready to answer the call from Meninga should any more injury concerns arise later on in the series.
“That’s obviously what I was brought in for, but I’m glad those boys are now fit and healthy,” he said.
“But to be a part of the Maroons squad and just being around all those boys was just an experience of a lifetime.
“Just the way they do things, how the whole team is on board with each other and no matter what happens, they’ve always got each other’s back.
“It’s just like a big family. That’s the best way to put it.”