Joe O tells Kevvie: I can deliver for Queensland
JOE Ofahengaue has assured Queensland coach Kevin Walters he wouldn't let the Maroons down as Broncos teammates called for the hulking prop to be handed his Origin debut.
The Queensland team for Origin III is named this Monday and Maroons hopeful Ofahengaue has one final chance to impress in Saturday night's clash with the Raiders at Suncorp Stadium.
The 116kg bookend has already had a taste of representative football, with Ofahengaue featuring in Tonga's epic World Cup campaign last year and donning the red jumper again in last Friday's 38-22 defeat of Samoa.
Now, with Queensland under pressure to look to the future after losing their second Origin series in 13 years, Ofahengaue would relish the opportunity to wear Maroon in the Suncorp dead-rubber on Wednesday week.
"I want to play Origin," said Ofahengaue, who was part of Queensland's extended squad for this year's Origin I preparations at Sanctuary Cove.
"If 'Kevvie' (Walters) gives me a go, I know I can back myself to do a job off the bench.
"I am doing it pretty much every week for the Broncos, I am familiar with that role off the bench.
"Kevvie said I'm pretty close, it just comes down to experience and last weekend (Queensland's 18-14 loss in Origin II) was a tough game for them, it was a game where they needed experienced players.
"If I keep performing well, hopefully one day I can be there for Queensland and if the day comes, I will take it both hands."
The 22-year-old, who played in Brisbane's 2015 grand-final loss, has rocketed into the Maroons frame after the most consistent stretch of his NRL career.
Ofahengaue has exceeded 100 running metres for 10 consecutive weeks, headlined by his superb 159m from 18 runs and 32 tackles off the bench in Brisbane's 20-16 defeat of Cronulla in round 15.
His size and go-forward is precisely the type of firepower the Maroons require off the bench and Broncos colleagues are convinced Ofahengaue would not crack in the Origin furnace.
"He is made for Origin football," said Broncos forward Alex Glenn, who has representative experience as a 12-Test New Zealand back-rower.
"Joffa has a big engine … it (Origin football) is only around the corner for him."
Broncos centre James Roberts, who made his Origin debut this season for the Blues, says the 60-game NRL prop has earned his stripes.
"Joe would be great for Queensland," he said. "He has been good for us and brings a lot of energy. It would be good to see as many Broncos as possible in that arena. I hope he gets a crack."
Broncos teammate Tevita Pangai Jr has turned his back on Origin football to commit to Tonga but Ofahengaue has no plans to walk away from the Maroons.
"I know the rules and I know how it works. I can also play for Tonga and hopefully Queensland one day," he said.
"It would mean everything (to play Origin).
"I was born in New Zealand but I grew up in Queensland and everything revolved around the Maroons winning. They went on that eight-year winning streak and guys like Darren Lockyer and Petero (Civoniceva) inspired me to want to wear the Queensland jersey one day."
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