James Maloney's NRL form has made him a shoo-in for NSW State of Origin selection, according to Cronulla and Blues skipper Paul Gallen.
Maloney has been a key figure in Cronulla's rise to the top of the NRL ladder midway through round 11 and is on the verge of forcing his way back into the Blues line-up for the first time since 2013.
Gallen, who will play in his final Origin series this season, says Maloney's form for the Sharks has made him an irresistible selection for coach Laurie Daley.
"I don't have anything to do with selection," Gallen said.
"I just want to see players play well every week at club level and get to to point where they have no choice but to pick you and I think James Maloney is that player.
"I think he has been the best halfback in the competition so far."
Maloney was heavily criticised for his defensive performances in the 2013 series but Gallen said he wasn't concerned.
"He is not a defensive player, we know he is an offensive player, but I don't see him missing a lot of tackles where they run through him and just score tries," Gallen said.
"He may miss some tackles but he is not a liability in defence.
"His kicking game is really good and he is a goal kicker too."