Ofahengaue ready to fire for Broncos
Brisbane Broncos prop Joe Ofahengaue was so anxious watching his team from the sidelines that he had to leave Suncorp Stadium early to escape the nerves.
This was during Brisbane's 22-point victory over the Cronulla-Sutherland Sharks in Round 23 – the first week of Ofahengaue's three-game suspension for a dangerous throw.
The 21-year-old has now served his time and is ready to make it up to his teammates, and he is a huge inclusion following a year of great form that has seen him have the most impact of any Broncos bench forward.
Ofahengaue averages 104 running metres per match, with this number more than any other Brisbane prop – including starting forwards Adam Blair and Korbin Sims.
Sims is now out for the year with a fractured arm, leaving the door open for Ofahengaue to up his workload after three weeks off.
The young forward is desperate to get back on the paddock, telling media how hard it was to watch his team knowing that he could have been out there if it was not for one silly mistake.
"I want to get out there pretty badly," Ofahengaue said.
"To be honest I had itchy feet at all the home games I went to. I think the first week I missed out on I had to leave early because I was getting a bit nervous. I just didn't think it was good for me to stay at the ground and watch the game so I went home.
"Hopefully I can do my best coming back this week. I'll be sure to do what I can for the team."
It was no three-week holiday for Ofahengaue who was worked hard both on the training field and in the gym.
He put so much effort into his training that he suffered a minor calf injury, but to his relief that is now healed.
"I've been going through the same routine I do every week. I feel fresh," Ofahengaue said.
"I picked up a little calf injury on my break and looked after that really well. We have a good coaching staff here and they got me on my feet and put me through some workouts in the gym."
Ofahengaue is set to be an integral part of Brisbane's new-look forward pack heading into the finals, with coach Wayne Bennett opting to move Sam Thaiday to prop and start Ben Hunt at hooker.
Ofahengaue supports this decision, saying Thaiday's experience made him the right man to replace Sims in the starting pack.
"We just follow the plan and do whatever Wayne wants us to do. We just need to do our jobs," he said.
"I think Sammy should start because he's the best option for us at the club. We all know what he can bring. He's a very good player."
Talented Broncos forward Tevita Pangai Junior will also return to the bench on Thursday night to face the North Queensland Cowboys after beating a niggling hamstring injury.
As well as this, New Zealand international Jordan Kahu (groin) has been cleared fit to play and will replace David Mead.