Despite being the cornerstone of the NRL's league leading forward pack, Luke Davico was passed over for selection in the Country Origin side announced on Sunday night.
Adding to Davico's frustrations, being named in a preliminary thirty man NSW squad for the upcoming State of Origin series built up his hopes of representation. Although it was stressed at the time, making that squad would not guarantee any player a spot in the NSW side, Davico must have rated himself a chance for the Country Origin side.
Now despite being a major player in Canberra's march to the top of the ladder, Davico can sense his State of Origin dream slip away.
"I would have loved to have got a chance to play in the City Country because the way I see it you're only one good game away from getting a blue jersey, but on the other hand there are still 3 or 4 rounds to go before the NSW side is picked. But I think it has made it a lot harder to make Origin."
As disappointing as missing the Country team has been, Davico is realistic as to why he did miss out.
"Luckily I've been down this road the last few years (missing selection), more so due to being injured. This time I was available for selection but wasn't good enough to get picked so I was prepared for that. I was 'hoping' to get in, more than confident of being picked. My form this year hasn't been too bad but I've been struggling week to week with a chronic groin injury which hasn't allowed me to play at any more than about 75% so I think that had a major bearing on the end result."
Add the to the fact Country picked some pretty good props, and Davico knows he faces an uphill battle to get back into Origin calculations. St.George Illawarra pair Jason Ryles and Luke Bailey appear to have a mortgage on the starting births for NSW, meaning there is at least one open spot for a prop on the bench. And with eight players picked in the first representative game of the season who can play prop, there looks to be no room for the forgotten Raider.
On the brighter side of things, Davico is a member of the league's top team and he is striving to shake off the groin injury that has limited his game time in 2003. He is getting only about 40 minutes a game and that has probably had an impact on his appeal in selection.
"I haven't been overly happy with the amount of time I've been spending on the field but I'm probably still a bit underdone in the fitness department and with the way the team has been going, when I get replaced the subs have been doing a fantastic job so it's hard to get back out there."
If Davico's Origin chances have diminished, Canberra's last start loss to the Melbourne Storm has not dented the team's self belief. Their seven game winning streak might have been snapped in the 30-10 loss but it is clear the side is ready to bounce back.
"I think everyone has been waiting for us to stumble and although no one likes losing it was probably a relief in some ways. No one has given us any real credit for our start to the year saying we haven't beaten anyone but that sits fine with us. Our great start can be attributed to two main things - attitude and intent, and against Melbourne we didn't have either of those. Funnily enough with 20 minutes remaining, the game was there to be won but we cost ourselves with too many crucial mistakes. So the key for us is to learn from that, move on and get our attitudes back on track for next week."
Canberra have a number of tough games in the next few rounds and Davico knows getting his own game back to the level he expects from himself is the best way he can deal with the disappointment of missing the start of the rep season.
"I still believe I have a mountain of improvement in my current game and would like to concentrate on increasing my work rate and better ball security."
Considering a Canberra side is leading the league with their top prop not yet in top form bodes well for the coming weeks as Davico aims to prove his omission was a mistake.