By Jack Brady (NRL.com)
State of Origin may be many months away but it hasn't prevented Dragons duo Joel Thompson and Tyson Frizell from signalling their desire to earn a maiden sky blue jumper in 2016.
With both men making up the Country Origin back row alongside eventual Origin debutant Josh Jackson earlier in the year, the Dragons back-rowers are keen to go one step further and do wonders under the guidance of Blues coach Laurie Daley.
Frizell came within a whisker of making his New South Wales debut last season – named 18th man for Origin I and touted as a potential replacement for Jackson who went into Origin III with a suspension cloud over his head – which has him excited for what's to come.
"Joel and I are always pushing each other to do our best individually and for the team so I guess we're both worrying about doing well for the team first and as individuals hopefully we can get there at some stage," Frizell said.
"We can take a lot of positives from how far we have come. We have come along pretty far as a group too. But we're starting afresh again and hopefully there are some good times to come."
Thompson said an Origin debut was a realistic goal for him in 2016 if he is able to whip his body into shape over the off-season.
The 27-year-old battled a hamstring complaint during the back end of year and said it has put him good stead, with plenty of lessons learnt, for the years ahead.
"My goal is to get my body into the best shape and if it's in the best shape possible then I want to be pushing for New South Wales to be honest. It's definitely a goal for me and definitely a goal for the big fella Frizz," Thompson said.
"I've come back strong, the hamstring is really good. I just needed some time off, it's all it needed. The whole break I just rested and did my work and it's feeling stronger than it ever has.
"I learnt a bit myself about coming back too early and sort of not being smart – so I took a bit out of last season [with my injury management]. Moving forward it should be a lot better but at the time I was pushing it, which wasn't smart. You have to learn from your mistakes."
Thompson also expressed his desire to make a return to the Indigenous All Stars scene – who play the newly-named World All Stars on February 13 at Suncorp Stadium – having represented them four times previously.
"Last year I missed out so this year I want to get back there and represent my people and give it a good crack," he said.
"I'd love to get back in there and rip in. I have some aggression to take out through missing the back end of last season so I'm ready to go."