Ofahengaue's point to prove in Auckland
12 months ago Brisbane Broncos prop Joe Ofahengaue's career hit an all-time low, but now he is ready to right the wrongs of the past.
Ofahengaue will travel with Brisbane to New Zealand to take on the Warriors on Saturday and he will have a point to prove after a forgettable performance this time last year.
It was a cold Auckland afternoon when the Broncos travelled to Mt Smart Stadium to take on the New Zealand Warriors in Round 13 of the 2016 season.
The match took place just days after Origin I, and a depleted Brisbane were forced to travel across the ditch without Corey Oates, Matt Gillett and injured hooker Andrew McCullough.
Starting for only the third time in his short NRL career, Ofahengaue was in charge of getting the Broncos off to a good start, with coach Wayne Bennett trusting the young prop to do what was right and lay a strong platform for Brisbane's halves to run off.
But that didn't happen; instead Ofahengaue was taken off after 26 minutes of play as the Broncos trailed 18-0.
He did not make it back onto the field, finishing the match with horrible statistics that included zero runs for zero metres and four missed tackles.
Subsequently, Ofahengaue was dropped the following week and it took its toll, with his form struggling as a result.
The young forward only played four games for the rest of the year, in and out of the side while gathering limited minutes off Brisbane's bench.
But 2017 has been much kinder to Ofahengaue who is now a regular face in the Broncos' side after making some changes to the way he works on and off the field.
A new routine has seen Ofahengaue freshen up mentally and his fitness has improved, with his 48 minutes of game time in Brisbane's 36-0 drubbing of the Wests Tigers in Round 11 the most he has played in his NRL career.
Ofahengaue also ran for 156m and made 34 tackles in that match, with both of these personal bests as he continues to develop himself into a workhorse front-rower.
The 21-year-old spoke to NRL.com about his transformation, saying a change in attitude has revolutionised his playing style.
"I'm excited to see my family in New Zealand and then when the game comes hopefully I put in a good performance," Ofahengaue said.
"I've changed my whole routine around since 12 months ago.
"This year I'm trying not to take my spot for granted and I'm trying to get my confidence up around the ruck a bit more. It's something I worked on in Queensland Cup so I just hope I can stay in the team now."
Ofahengaue will be an integral part of the team this week, with six players absent on Queensland Maroons duty.
Captain Darius Boyd, Corey Oates, Anthony Milford, Matt Gillett, Sam Thaiday and Josh McGuire are all omissions because of Origin, with McCullough also out after suffering a bad concussion in Round 11.
But Ofahengaue is confident his side will cope despite missing over 1,200 games of NRL experience, trusting New Zealand internationals Adam Blair and Alex Glenn to lead the way against the Warriors.
"I was just hoping to get picked this week. We are looking at missing at least six boys out, maybe more if 'Macca' isn’t right. I just hope we do a good job there," he said.
"Nothing will change for me. Even though we have some boys leaving we still have a lot of leaders in the group.
"Alex Glenn and Adam Blair are really good for us and will lead the way."