Roosters prop Jared Waerea-Hargreaves admits he was surprised to have missed out on selection for New Zealand's 30-12 Anzac Test loss to the Kangaroos and has vowed to do everything in his power to win back his Kiwis jersey ahead of the World Cup.
With senior players Jesse Bromwich and Kevin Proctor set to miss the end end-of-year event due to an incident involving an illicit substance, Waerea-Hargreaves shapes as the logical choice to replace the Kiwis skipper in the front row.
It's been a difficult international journey for Waerea-Hargreaves who re-joined the Kiwis side after a three-year hiatus but was dropped after one game in the Four Nations having managed just 25 minutes against England.
The 18-Test veteran said he hadn't been in touch with Kiwis coach David Kidwell about his omission from the mid-year Test side and wants to let his football do the talking in a bid to earn a World Cup recall.
"Your heart's always with your country so I would have loved to have been there for the Anzac Test," Waerea-Hargreaves told NRL.com.
"I'll find out why I wasn't picked; obviously my form wasn't up to scratch.
"I'll put my hand up at the end of the year, but in the meantime I'll continue to work hard for the Roosters and do my job. That's all I'm focussing on at the moment and we'll see how it pans out at the end of the year.
"We've been going well as a club so it was a bit of a shock [to miss out on selection] but those things happen. Coaches and selectors make decisions and you've just got to roll with it. You can't change the way they think so I've just got to keep doing my part well and consistently for the Roosters."
The 28-year-old is coming off his best performance of the season with 200 metres and 29 tackles in the big win over Parramatta last Sunday, including a 54-minute stint to start the game.
Having burst onto the scene as a hulking firebrand at the Sea Eagles, Waerea-Hargreaves believes he's come to understand his role over time and it's starting to show on the field.
"I'm still learning the game and I think I've got a few things I can improve on," he said.
"I'm loving my footy more than ever and I just hope I can continue doing it each week.
"As you get older, I think that role as a front-rower changes. You come to learn that you can handle certain situations better than how you might have approached them when you were still young and raw."
He'll need to be at his best on Sunday when the Roosters take on a Bulldogs side that will be smarting after their disappointing Round 10 loss to the Cowboys.
"They're a big pack of forwards who have some terrific skills," he said.
"If we focus on ourselves and take momentum from what we did against Parramatta then we should be in a good position to get the two points."
This article first appeared on NRL.COM