His first representative jumper in the bag, Dragons hooker Mitch Rein can see light at the end of the Origin tunnel as he prepares to take on a man who's been there and done it all.
Only a week after he took his first tentative steps with Country in the representative arena, the rugged 24-year-old has the task of taming Bulldogs rake Michael Ennis at ANZ Stadium.
While Robbie Farah's rehabilitation from an elbow injury dented the NSW aspirations of Ennis and co, Rein's desire to one day wear the Sky Blue was strengthened after the Dubbo trip.
He worked in Country's camp alongside former NSW skipper Danny Buderus and is bracing for a verbal and physical assault from Ennis' table-topping Bulldogs.
"Everyone knows how competitive he is. Coming up against him will be a good test because he can get under your skin sometimes," Rein said.
"You want to play against good players who are competing hard week in week out. It's going to be good for us to come up against him.
"I'd like to play [Origin like Ennis] and I reckon I'm capable of it. I've just got to get those few errors out of my game and keep improving.
"Having a taste of the Country Origin, I know a lot of people say they want to get rid of [the game], but it's a great thing and for blokes who want higher rep honours ... it's a great stepping stone."
Rein was the only St George Illawarra player to feature in the annual Origin trial after Country teammates Josh Dugan (ankle), Trent Merrin (hand) and Tyson Frizell (ankle) were ruled out with injury.
Yet the Dragons' No 1 rake might have derived the most benefit from the week even if his teammates were still involved.
"I reckon I'll be a better player from it," he said.
"It was good having Danny Buderus around as well.
"I got a chance to spend a bit more time with him in training sessions and as a hooker he gave me lots of advice as well," Rein said.
"It was a bit disappointing with a few mistakes I made and it's really given me that drive to improve now week in week out at the Dragons."
The Dragons' injury worries out of the weekend were extended to winger Jason Nightingale, who will miss up to a month after sustaining a medial ligament problem in the Test match.
Nathan Green has taken his place on the right wing for the Bulldogs clash, with Joel Thompson shifting to the centres.
"He [Nightingale] is currently in a brace and we're expecting him to miss between three to four weeks," said Dragons performance director Andrew Gray.
Dugan, Merrin and Frizell all took part in limited activities during the Dragons' training session at Kogarah on Tuesday.
They were all named to play in the game against the Bulldogs.