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Matt King breathes sigh of relief
Melbourne Storm centre Matt King is one player whose position in the NSW Origin line-up is not under threat.
While Blues coach Ricky Stuart put a number of his players on notice after some disappointing performances in the NRL, King virtually sealed his spot with a stand-out showing in the Storm's win over the Dragons.
He scored the opening try and earned the praise of his coach Craig Bellamy, who called King and fellow Origin representatives Cameron Smith and Billy Slater "absolutely tremendous".
King said he had heard about Stuart's warning, but thankfully not from the man himself.
The tight loss to Queensland in his Origin debut had been a huge disappointment, but King said the pain had eased with the Storm's much-needed win over St George Illawarra.
"Origin was a pretty big deal and to lose wasn't the best thing but to come back down to Melbourne and beat the Dragons, who have been on fire for the past couple of months, it was a pretty good win," he said.
"I'm feeling pretty good and have been taking it pretty easy with training and, fingers crossed, I should be right for the weekend."
The Melbourne players were openly relieved to have ended a three-match losing streak at home, and now have another goal in their sights - winning at Leichhardt Oval against the Wests Tigers.
It's a challenge they haven't been able to overcome since 1998.
King couldn't see a reason for the Storm's dismal record there, except that visiting teams didn't feel comfortable at the antiquated ground.
He said the Tigers made it even more difficult, growing an extra leg on their home track.
Precariously perched in sixth position, Melbourne needs to find consistency after failing to win back-to-back matches since round one-two.
"It was great to get that win but we still feel like we're in limbo and we could go each way on the competition ladder," King said.
"We really need to have a good game this weekend and get the two points to cement ourselves in the top eight."
Melbourne hopes to secure its game-breaking centre with a new contract before Sunday's match.
"My manager and the club are talking, I'd love to stay down here in Melbourne but I've got to look at every option - although hopefully something will be worked out soon," King said.
If they can't agree to terms, the new Gold Coast club is sure to show an interest in King, who grew up in Casino, just south of the Queensland border.