Simply playing rugby league again was Josh McGuire’s modest goal for 2016.
And if he was lucky, maybe crack Brisbane’s starting side.
No wonder McGuire was still pinching himself on Thursday, 24 hours after being told he would wear the Queensland No.10 jersey in the second State of Origin game in Brisbane.
Barely 12 months ago McGuire tore his Achilles in the NRL – and feared the worst.
“I wanted to come back. I didn’t want my career to be over,” McGuire said when asked about his 2016 goal.
“Then it was to be the starting frontrower for the Broncos at the start of the year.
“The way Adam Blair and Sam Thaiday were playing I thought that would be difficult.
“The furtherest thing was playing Origin.”
Rookie prop McGuire played the first two Origin games last year, only to break down with the Achilles injury playing for Brisbane in round 16.
He watched hopelessly from the sidelines as Queensland sealed a ninth series win in 10 years with a 52-6 game three romp in Brisbane.
And the Broncos launched a premiership tilt, losing a golden point NRL grand final to North Queensland.
He returned this year leaner – he shed 5kg in the pre-season – and meaner, with immediate results.
McGuire started the NRL season in Brisbane’s front row.
By May he had made his Test debut.
Now McGuire faces arguably his biggest test yet – filling in for injured 30-game veteran Nate Myles in Wednesday’s Origin II.
McGuire pipped Josh Papalii and Jacob Lillyman for the starting front row spot alongside Matt Scott.
“He (Myles) has been a dominant player for the last decade for Queensland – he will be sorely missed,” McGuire said.
“He’s a hard player to replicate. He’s the leader of the team.
“I don’t want to let the jersey or my teammates down.”