Storm coach Craig Bellamy has glowingly endorsed Ryan Papenhuyzen for State of Origin, saying he would be an ideal NSW supersub with his zip and toughness.
Blues mentor Brad Fittler told Wide World of Sports Radio this week that Papenhuyzen was "absolutely" in the mix for an Origin debut in November despite James Tedesco owning the fullback spot.
Bellamy, who sees similarities between Papenhuyzen and ex-Storm and Queensland champion Billy Slater, believes the 22-year-old is "without a doubt" ready for higher honours after 33 NRL games.
"I know when we first brought him into first grade, he was coming off the bench and a bit of his time was in the ruck. We tried to use his pace there either side of half-time," Bellamy said the day before Sunday's clash with the Knights at Sunshine Coast Stadium.
"The thing that convinced us to try that was his toughness. He's a tough kid and he doesn't shirk the defensive stuff.
"Certainly at times his lack of size gets shown up, but certainly his heart and his willingness to get into contact... there's not too many tougher players in those situations.
"I think he'd do a great job for the Blues and he'd cover a few positions for them with injuries, but if you needed a little bit of a spark through the middle he'd certainly handle that.
"He'd handle the defensive side of it as well."
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As for another Storm star who's already conquered all challenges, Bellamy said there's still no rush for Cameron Smith to decide his future.
The topic of whether the legendary 37-year-old hooker will continue into 2021 has been prominent with Brandon Smith and Wests Tigers loanee Harry Grant vying to take over Melbourne's No.9 jumper.
"As a club we'll plan for him retiring and we'll plan for him not retiring," Bellamy said.
"We'll have a couple of options for whatever happens. I've said all along, there's no way in the world I'm going to put pressure on Cameron to make a decision.
"With all due respect with this situation, this year has been topsy-turvy and it's even clouded the issue more. Not for us, but for Cameron, for making his decision.
"All these changes that we've had to make: leaving our homes and having to go to Albury [in May] and leaving our homes and having to come up here [to the Sunshine Coast].
"We were told we were going to be up here for two or three weeks and we're going to be up here for months. There's a lot of things this year that have affected everybody."
The second-placed Storm have made a few tweaks to their gameplan in readiness for Newcastle, who they beat 26-12 in round five.
Knights five-eighth Kurt Mann has been a revelation in 2020 and Bellamy is happy to see one of his old pupils flourishing.
The versatile Mann mostly played centre during his two NRL seasons with Melbourne in 2014-15.
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"There were a lot of really good traits that we saw in Kurt and they're really starting to come out in his game now," Bellamy said.
"He was competitive, he was tough, and just now I suppose he's starting to develop those skills and the smarts, I suppose, about playing in the halves."
Bellamy said Mann's improvement could be down to Newcastle coach Adam O'Brien giving him a permanent position.
"Obviously he's found a home in the No.6 jumper now and is just showing what a really good player he is," Bellamy said.
"I'm really happy for him because he's a really good kid too."