Ofahengaue rockets into Maroons frame
Joe Ofahengaue has rocketed into the frame for Queensland Origin selection on the back of another powerhouse performance as a starting lock for the Broncos.
Brisbane coach Wayne Bennett said Ofahengaue was at the peak of his powers while also asserting he would pick 28-game Origin veteran Darius Boyd in the Maroons side which is named on Monday.
Ofahengaue ran for 136m and made 38 tackles in the 18-10 win over Parramatta on the back of his man of the match performance last week against the Roosters.
Queensland chairman of selectors Gene Miles told NRL.com recently that Ofahengaue was in the picture for this year's Holden State of Origin series.
Whether that happens in Game One on June 6 in Melbourne remains to be seen, but the Tongan international, who also qualifies to represent Queensland, has given the selection panel plenty to think about ahead of the team announcement on Monday.
The former Ipswich Brothers junior has been a bench specialist for most of his first grade career but has shown in recent weeks he is capable of starting and playing big minutes.
The Maroons will be looking at him as a bench option and Bennett said Ofahengaue had done everything right when asked if he was ready for a call-up.
"His form has been excellent," Bennett said.
"Are they ready? I don't know if there is any time you are ready for anything sometimes in your life, and sometimes you're too ready. I don't think Joe has an issue there. Joe is a third year NRL player with us and he's grown each year and developed his game and confidence. He's at the height of his form at the moment."
Boyd said he rated his Origin chances as "50-50" while Bennett said his captain "had his best game tonight."
"He has been getting better, but tonight he was breaking the line and was confident in himself and his speed to do that," Bennett said.
"I've coached him for so long and I know him better than anybody else. I'd find it hard to leave him out [for Queensland]. I just love players that have been there and done the job.
"Darius is not an old football player yet."
The Broncos defence on their try-line was desperate with Ofahengaue, Anthony Milford and Jordan Kahu all coming up with try saving plays.
"It was probably the best we'd defended tonight actually," Bennett said.
"Someone just kept turning up. Twice they (Parramatta) were over the tryline and somebody forced the ball loose."
Bennett said the inexperienced bench of Kotoni Staggs, Patrick Mago and George Fai did "a really good job", as did veteran Sam Tagataese.
The Broncos are now in the top eight for the first time in six weeks after winning four of their last five games.
"We set that goal five weeks ago. We thought that was achievable and it has put us back on target and back in the competition," Bennett said.