Dylan Napa might have taken a knock in being overlooked by Queensland for the deciding Origin game but his Bulldogs skipper Josh Jackson loves what the Aspley Devils junior is doing at Belmore this year.
Napa bounced back from his Maroons omission last week with a powerful 177 metres off 21 runs for the Bulldogs, along with 41 tackles, in a 68-minute performance against the Knights on Friday.
Napa had been 19th man for Queensland in Origin III, after coming off the bench in game one and starting in game two.
The 198cm prop did make one error against the Knights in dropping the ball in a carry off his line, which allowed Shaun Kenny-Dowall to score, but it didn't alter the result as Dean Pay's hard-working men clinched a 20-14 win.
"Apart from the error Naps was fantastic," Jackson said. "We lost Aidan Tolman early [to a ribs injury] and he's usually the guy who plays really big minutes for us.
"But Naps stepped up and nearly played 70 minutes, which for a big man like him is outstanding. He took the ball really well for us.
"He's probably down a little in confidence after getting overlooked for Origin but he's been good for us all year.
"I was really disappointed for him missing out because he's exactly what that Queensland team needed – a big, aggressive guy getting them going forward.
"I was surprised he wasn't picked. But if he keeps playing like he did for us on the weekend, I'll be really happy."
The Bulldogs will need Napa in all his gate-busting glory again this Thursday facing the Broncos at Suncorp Stadium with the likes of Payne Haas, Tevita Pangai jnr, Matt Lodge, Joe Ofahengaue and David Fifita running at them.
Tolman will be rested as he nurses rib cartilage damage.
Maybe the Warriors did the Dogs a favour in the 18-18 all draw after 90 minutes of football, making the Brisbane forwards a little sore and tender heading into this week's game.
"I hope so," Jackson said. "Obviously they're coming off a pretty tough game with a short turnaround, but I think for us we still have to stop their go-forward.
"They've got a really big pack, who are really mobile and throw a lot at you.
"Newcastle did that to us in the first half last weekend – we didn't control the middle so that's what our focus is going to be, control those big men.
"They're a good footy team who has been under the pump the last month or so. They will be tough up there."
Match: Broncos v Bulldogs
Round 18 -
Venue: Suncorp Stadium, Brisbane
The Bulldogs have the wind in their sails after upsetting two top-eight sides in the Sharks and the Knights in the last fortnight. They haven't won three in a row since round seven, 2017. Coincidentally two teams they defeated in that run two years ago were the Knights and Broncos.
"It's good for our confidence… even two in a row is great for us because it builds up your energy," Jackson said.
"You learn how to win and especially in tight situations – the tight games are the ones we haven't been winning over the past 18 months.
"We just want to keep winning."