He may expect NSW Origin selectors to look the other way but Knights veteran Willie Mason is squarely in Brisbane’s sights ahead of Friday night’s NRL clash at Newcastle.
Mason, 34, has played down his chances of adding to his 13 Origin games for the Blues – and first nod since 2008 – despite good form for the Knights.
However, the larger-than-life Mason has never been one to fly under the radar and his recent efforts have not gone unnoticed by the Broncos.
Keen to bounce back from last round’s gut-wrenching 12-8 loss to Gold Coast, Brisbane (8th; 3-3) didn’t have to be asked twice who they had to shut down to have any chance of victory against Newcastle (13th; 2-4).
“Big Willie has been a big inspiration for their pack. He will be a key this weekend,” Broncos forward Alex Glenn said.
“If we shut him down it will stop a lot of their momentum.
“He towers over me so I have to put some oomph into my defence.”
Mason has made 100m in the past three games including a remarkable 119m and 16 tackles in just 37 minutes off the bench in last round’s gutsy win in Canberra.
“He’s been around the game for a while, he’s got so much experience,” Glenn said.
“He knows where the weaknesses are on the field and takes advantage of that – he is not a gentle man out there .
“He’s pretty strong and aggressive. It will be a tough job for us in the forwards.”
Glenn said as frustrated as Brisbane had been after their promising early-season form was disrupted by three tight losses, it paled in comparison to what the Knights have endured.
Newcastle have been able to string together two wins in the three matches since forward Alex McKinnon suffered a career-ending neck injury.
Mason and a group of Knights teammates drove to Sydney on Wednesday to visit the former NSW Country forward in hospital.
“I feel for the team. What they have been going through has been pretty horrific,” Glenn said.
“For them to stand up and dedicate their season towards him they will be hard to beat each game.”