Mitchell Pearce is adamant his sole focus is leading the Knights to a rare win in Melbourne on Saturday with the hype surrounding a potential Origin recall just "background noise" that will have no impact on his performance.
The in-form Newcastle skipper is being strongly tipped to be named at halfback for the NSW Blues on Sunday night for Origin ll against Queensland in Perth next weekend.
It's understood he was contacted earlier this week by Knights legend and Blues adviser Andrew Johns to ascertain whether he was keen to play but there has been no other communication with the NSW camp.
"You obviously hear things and there's been a bit of background noise around but I'm not reading too much into it and don't know anymore than anyone else," Pearce told the Newcastle Herald.
"I'm only worried about Melbourne and going down there with the boys and getting a win. It's a big challenge for us against a great side but we want to keep the roll going heading into another bye."
The squad traveled to Melbourne on Friday without interchange prop Josh King, who is yet to completely recover from a leg injury. Young forward Pasami Saulo, who came off the bench late in the match against South Sydney last game, and Jacob Saifiti are both in the mix as King's replacement.
In a massive boost, a well rested Kalyn Ponga is back at fullback to renew his devastating combination with Pearce after missing the Souths game with former Storm utility Kurt Mann back at five-eighth.
Knights coach Nathan Brown is confident of a strong showing against Melbourne but was quick to put his side's recent purple patch of form in perspective.
"We've obviously had a good period of footy for the past six or seven weeks and Melbourne have had a pretty good 15 years," he said.
"We know we've got a big challenge ahead of us but we are also confident if we do the things we have been doing well lately, we'll certainly give ourselves a shout.
"The way our forwards played [against the Rabbitohs] is certainly what's going to be required. We'll be hopeful our attacking footy and our completions will be a little better tomorrow."
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Asked about Pearce and Origin, Brown said: "The way Pearcey's playing, I'm sure he'll give a good account of himself given the right style of footy. The main thing for us as a club is Mitch is focused on the Storm because if you go to Melbourne and you are 98 percent focused, that won't be good enough."
It will be the first occasion in quite some time the Knights will fancy their chances in Melbourne.
"When you are coaching, you are always trying to create hope and belief and we have been down there once or twice and got some touch ups and we had a real tight loss down there too," Brown said. "But we can certainly head down there optimistic that if we do what we do well, we'll certainly give ourselves a good shot."