Tariq Sims refused to rule out a NSW Blues comeback, at 31-years-old the State Of Origin remains a "big time" goal of his career.
But even then, the third call from coach Brad Fittler caught the enforcer off guard.
Indeed Sims has been brought back into the Blues fold for the first time since 2019, with the Dragons firebrand named for Wednesday's Origin I clash in Townsville.
It comes after Fittler's side was left short on edge backrowers due to Tyson Frizell's ankle injury, while Victor Radley and Angus Crichton both serve suspensions.
Although it may seem like a surprise rise to NSW's 17 on the surface, twice-capped Sims never thought his Origin days were over.
"Big time, [it was the goal]. When you stop striving to be the best, that's probably when you should hang up the boots," Sims told ESPN.
"To survive and compete at this level - in the NRL or the Blues - you have to try and be the best in every game and be a top performer at your club.
"Thankfully the staff at the Dragons have played a big part in getting me back here. I'm very thankful for that."
Sims featured in the Blues' back-to-back triumphs over Queensland in 2018 and 2019, but missed out on selection last year amid the Dragons' dismal run of form.
In 11 matches this NRL season, Sims has scored three tries, made five line breaks, as well as 349 tackles at 86.8 percent efficiency.
His early morning call from Fittler last Sunday left him almost speechless, with the forward thinking "far out, how good is that?" before breaking the news to his family.
While Sims isn't new to the Origin set-up, this time it feels even more special. Take a quick glance across the Coogee camp and it's easy to see why.
"To be picked in any team is special, but to be picked in a Blues side with so much talent - that's what is so exciting about this," Sims said.
"We've got a group of really exciting players, a group of players that are willing and able to do a job.
"We're under no illusion it's going to be easy. We've got to make sure we put the hard work in early and ease into the back end of the week before playing on Wednesday."
Sims returned from a one-week suspension in the Dragons' 34-18 loss to the Wests Tigers in time for Origin I, now finding himself on the edge of a strong back-row with South's lock Cameron Murray.
He'll play an enforcer role for the fresh-faced Blues as they look to take back the Origin trophy, a task he says is no easy feat.
NSW will need to overcome a concerning record in Queensland, where they've won just 19 of 59 matches, to win this year's title now that Origin I has been moved to Townsville following Melbourne's COVID-19 outbreak.
"It's not great but there's nothing we can do, we have to deal with it," Sims, who made his NRL debut for North Queensland, said.
"We have our work cut out for us, we're coming off a loss in the series and we need to turn it around.
"The crowd will be the difference. We're going to have to prepare under even tougher circumstances, get in there early and prepare for the game visually - then execute."
On top of that is how the NRL's crackdown on high tackles will play out at Origin level, with the record numbers of sin-bins and send-offs raising concerns in recent weeks.
"Hopefully Origin stays the way Origin is but we've got to adapt as players," Sims said.
"The best teams are the ones that adapt the fastest, so we need to adapt the quickest.
"You've just got to be a bit more mindful of where [the player's] body could be. It's a weird one to explain. It's very tricky and the referees have a really hard job to police 13 blokes trying to rip each other's head off.
"We've got to do our best to make it easier on them, making sure we're going below the shoulders and above the hips."