New Zealand-born New South Wales front rower James Tamou rated last night's State of Origin victory as a better experience than playing Test football for the Kangaroos.
Backing up his outstanding debut in a losing side in game one, Tamou said there was no comparison between his first Test start against the Kiwis at Eden Park and playing in front of a record ANZ Stadium crowd of almost 84,000 people.
"When I was playing the Test match, I thought, 'geez, it can't get any better than this', but playing two Origins definitely blows it out of the water for me, personally," Tamou explained afterwards.
"Just the atmosphere, the calibre of players and the lead-up was just unreal."
Tamou said the win was made all the more special by playing in front of his home crowd, reiterating the point that although he hails from Palmerston North and resides in Townsville, Sydney has been his home since relocating there when he was 13-years old.
"My second Origin was a big buzz for me, being at home with family watching and friends. I have all my immediate family over here in Sydney and they all came to watch me, which was really good.
"But that extra step to get that win - that definitely was the highlight for me."
Tamou admitted to feeling the pressure during the tense build-up to last night's game, but drew confidence during the match from his side's strong defence.
"I was nervous. I knew it was a must win and I knew I had to do whatever it takes. There was a time there on the field, we defended four sets on our line and I was blowing heavy, and I knew I couldn't give up.
"I think that was a moment, personally, where I knew I could fight through the barrier," he continued. "We knew our strength was our defence. A couple times we kicked the ball down their end and they only made 20 metres."
Having dominated the opening half, only to find themselves two-points down at the break, Tamou said there was no panic in the NSW sheds.
"We still had to be upbeat, because we had another half to play and that's what the team was."
Tamou's focus now switches back to the Cowboys, but added his journey north would be an interesting one, when he meets up with club captain and Queensland opponent Jonathan Thurston.
"Back to Townsville tomorrow. Game against the Broncos on Friday night. They had a few players in tonight, but we also had a few players in the Queensland side.
"Yeah, it'll be a bit awkward, I think, going back there, but oh well," he said with a winner's grin.
When asked if he had a short message for his fans and detractors back in New Zealand, Tamou smiled and said: "Kia ora! Get on the Blues! Game three 100%!"