Robbie Farah refuses to admit his Queensland counterpart Cameron Smith is a better player, but the NSW vice-captain believes he will be unable to stake a genuine claim to be the first-choice Australian hooker until the Blues finally win a State of Origin series.
Farah, who still draws inspiration from claims just three years ago that he was "not an Origin player", has been in career best form for Wests Tigers this season and is ranked the No.1 player in the NRL according to Sportsdata's contributor value rating system.
However, the 29-year-old was not even chosen on the bench for the Kangaroos in last year's World Cup final or the recent trans-Tasman Test and concedes that he will always play second fiddle to Smith while the Maroons' eight-year Origin domination continues.
"It is always difficult when you go on those tours and you know that you have just got to bide your time for an opportunity," Farah said.
"But I guess Cam and the rest of the Queensland spine have earned that because of the success they have had at Origin level for a long time. For us to even be thinking about changing that we need to win an Origin series, so that is the challenge that faces us."
While he insists that winning Wednesday night's opening Origin match at Suncorp Stadium is his only focus at the moment, there is no doubt that Farah bristles at the way Smith is so widely assumed to be the best hooker in the game that no one else is even considered for the Kangaroos No.9 jersey.
The pair have toured England together with Australian teams on three occasions – in 2009, 2011 and last year – and were members of the 2010 Four Nations squad but Farah has only played when Smith has been rested from a Test or as a replacement off the bench.
"People might see this as me being cocky or whatever but I don't see Cam as being a better player than me," Farah said. "If I thought that going out onto the field then I have already lost the battle, haven't I?
"I am a competitor and I like to compete. He has set the bench mark and now the challenge for me is to raise my game to that level. You always want to play against the best, he is the captain of Australia and has been for a long time.
"He has the runs on the board and when you have been there for a long time, you have been in the Australian system and captained the side, you keep getting picked and rightfully so I would expect that if it was me in that situation. He has earned that and I have the utmost respect for him."
Having struggled to secure his place in the NSW team until Danny Buderus was ruled out by injury in 2012, Farah is prepared to be patient and believes the NSW players will only receive greater recognition once they record a historic series win.
His own "rapid" rise to captain the Blues in last year's series decider at ANZ Stadium is an example of how Farah's persistence paid off after NSW assistant coach Steve Roach, who now has a similar role with the Tigers, declared he was "not an Origin player" just over 12 months earlier.
"It was probably the greatest achievement in my football career," Farah said. "To get the NSW captaincy was a great honour and not long before that I wasn't even considered an Origin player, let alone captain, so I took a lot of satisfaction out of that.
"That hurt a lot at the time, especially coming from people I respect like Blocker [Roach]. I remind him about it all the time. Blocker is a great mate now and he is working with us at the Tigers. I have nothing but great words to say about him but his comments at the time hurt."
The story Robbie Farah says he doesn't believe Cameron Smith is a better player first appeared on WA Today.