Hess looks to build on 2017
Kyle Feldt has proven himself to be a master at producing the clutch play in a big game, and now it is the North Queensland Cowboys winger's attention to detail has him primed to finally break into the State of Origin arena.
The 25-year-old winger returned to pre-season training in what North Queensland assistant coach Josh Hannay told NRL.com was "physically the best shape anyone has ever seen him in".
Before the Christmas break Feldt, who stands at 191cm and weighs in at 103kg, said he'd learned by watching Johnathan Thurston that no matter how talented you are "you've got to work on the little things" to truly reach your potential.
Feldt attended his third Emerging Origin Camp on the weekend and his increasing maturity off the field resulting in him edging closer to a Queensland jersey.
"The opinion of people at the Cowboys who have been with Kyle right through his journey here say this is the best shape he has come back to pre-season, and why he's hit the ground running from day one," Hannay said.
"With his body shape, it looks to me like he is starting to furnish into a supreme looking athlete. I dare say his skin folds are the best they have been, which has transferred over into his running. He looks really light on his feet and is going better in the conditioning drills.
"It is exciting times ahead for Kyle. When you are preparing really well and doing the little things well, generally your football follows on."
Hannay, also a Maroons assistant coach, said Feldt was "ready to take the next step" if Queensland selectors came knocking.
Unless injury strikes, the wing positions are not likely to change in the short term but Feldt along with his Cowboys teammate Ethan Lowe were called into camp on standby for Origin II in 2016 after a stomach bug had swept through the squad.
"One of the things we tried to impress on the group [in camp] was 'make sure you are ready because you don't know when that Queensland call-up is going to come'," Hannay said.
"Queensland has a history of giving guys an opportunity who may seem to the outside world to have been plucked from obscurity.
"Their best years are ahead and their teething years are behind them. They are established NRL players now, and good ones at that, and at that age where they are about to put their best footy on the park."
Feldt's one-handed put down for a try in the final second of regular time in the 2015 grand final will not be forgotten and he repeated the dose late in last year's preliminary final against the Sydney Roosters to secure a grand final berth.
Feldt's 15 tries last season were a cavalcade of one-handed tries in the corner and aerial acrobatics with commentators throwing around superlatives such as "unbelievable" and "he's a superman in the air".
This big-game nous suggests Feldt would not be overawed by the Origin cauldron.
"He's had some massive moments in some massive games, and most recently the try against the Roosters in last year's semi-final where he probably had no right to get the ball down," Hannay said.
"Latrell Mitchell was opposite him and he somehow found a way to get the ball down before he went over the sideline.
"It is not only big moments in big games with Kyle, he has a flair for the freakish as well and being able to do the amazing."