Ofahengaue on the rise for Broncos
Brisbane Broncos prop Jarrod Wallace has praised young teammate Joe Ofahengaue ahead of Saturday's double-header at Suncorp Stadium.
Brisbane will play the Manly-Warringah Sea Eagles immediately after the Melbourne Storm face the North Queensland Cowboys in what is set to be a huge rugby league spectacle for Queenslanders.
It is an important game for the Broncos, with the second-placed team looking to build some momentum as they head into the State of Origin period.
Brisbane could lose up to seven players to Origin in Round 12 and it will be up to bench forwards Wallace and Ofahengaue to lift in the absence of their experienced teammates.
Wallace said 20-year-old Ofahengaue was coming into his own at NRL level and will excel with the added workload over Origin.
"'Jofa' and I are going alright. He in particular is playing some great footy," Wallace said.
"The last two weeks in a row I think he's played the full 40 minutes in the second half.
"He's getting some great game time and he had another good game for Tonga on the weekend, which is great for his confidence.
"He's really standing up this year and showing what he can do."
Ofahengaue made his debut for Brisbane in Round 2 of the 2015 NRL season and the Tongan international hasn't looked back, cementing his spot in the Broncos' 17 each week.
But it is in his last two matches in Brisbane colours that the Junior Kangaroo has really stood up, running for a career-high 119 metres against the Rabbitohs in Round 8 and backing that up with 114 metres against the Sharks in Round 9.
This career-best form from the young prop coincided with the loss of Broncos forwards Alex Glenn against Souths and the loss of Adam Blair against Cronulla Sutherland.
Wallace said both he and Ofahengaue relished the opportunity to take on more of a senior role in this period, with both hoping they get the chance to repeat those efforts over Origin.
"I'm sure I'll probably get a bit more game time heading into the Origin period when the rep boys go off," he said.
"We will probably lose five or six, so 'Jofa' and I will probably have more game time than what we usually get.
"If that doesn't happen then we will just keep doing what we've been doing.
"My goal is to be starting so if I get that chance it's something I look forward to.
"If I get that opportunity around Origin time I'll take it with both hands, but if Wayne decides to start someone else then unfortunately that's his call."
Wallace will get another chance to impress this weekend with the loss of New Zealand international Blair for a second NRL match in a row.
Blair will miss the clash with the Sea Eagles because of his chicken-wing tackle on teammate Sam Thaiday in the second half of New Zealand's 16-0 loss to Australia last Friday.
"The tackle was a bit of a misunderstanding," Wallace said.
"We missed Blair a bit in defence in our last game. We do need him.
"I don't think Sammy would have held too much of a grudge. You know what Sammy is like. He's a bit of a jokester and loves those sorts of things.
"I'm pretty sure they would have had a good laugh after the game and everything was all good."