Already pencilled in for State of Origin selection, Coen Hess will have no doubt had Maroons coach Kevin Walters reaching for the permanent marker after North Queensland’s 32-26 NRL win over Gold Coast.
But Cowboys coach Paul Green could not give his Origin blessing to Hess – yet.
In just his fifth start, the 20-year-old backrower proved the difference with two barnstorming second-half tries in which he carried four defenders over the line each time.
Queensland coach and selector Walters witnessed the powerhouse display from one of the best seats in the house as a Fox Sports TV commentator on Saturday night.
And he liked what he saw.
“Kevvie is scribbling in his Maroons notebook,” fellow TV commentator and Maroons great Gary Belcher said.
Green believed it was a matter of time before Hess played Origin – just not yet.
“It’s probably a bit early. He’s still learning,” he said.
“He has only played a handful of first grade games.
“Definitely one day. I think he is tailor made for Origin but it might be a bit early just yet.”
Hess looked every inch a budding Origin star when he made seven tackle busts to spark a Cowboys pack without leaders Matt Scott (knee) and Jason Taumalolo (ban).
After just his 12th game, Hess wasn’t getting caught up in the hype.
“To be honest I don’t look too much into it,” Hess told AAP.
“It is satisfying to get compliments but that is later on down the track.
“My priority is the Cowboys.”
Walters had already claimed Hess was “on the radar” before the young gun’s Cbus Super Stadium heroics.
The Maroons coach – elevated to one of three selectors this year – is on the lookout for fresh faces in a reshuffled 2017 Maroons pack.
Lock Corey Parker’s retirement and prop Matt Scott’s season-ending knee injury have left glaring holes.
And Manly frontrower Nate Myles is also battling for form.
It seems Hess can count on an Origin recommendation from Cowboys co-captain and Maroons great Johnathan Thurston.
The North Queensland playmaker is a clear Hess fan.
“You can tell by his performances – he is pretty cool, calm and collected,” Thurston said.
“He is fairly mature for a young bloke, knows how to read the game.
“I think the more we give him the ball in certain situations the better he will get.
“We all know the potential that he has – he has a big future.”
Hess at least has an Origin build after bulking up his 190cm frame to 114kg in the off-season.
“I’d hate to be feeding him, he’d cost a fortune,” Green said.