Ofahengaue ready to double up for Maroons after Tonga success

Broncos forward Joe Ofahengaue insists he is ready to become the third Tongan international to represent Queensland after playing a key role in last Saturday's Pacific Test win over Samoa.

Ofahengaue said on Wednesday that Queensland coach Kevin Walters had told him he was close to getting a Queensland call-up and chairman of selectors Gene Miles has also said the Broncos forward was on the cusp of selection.

The 22-year-old was called into camp at Sanctuary Cove prior to game one and with the series now lost, Maroon selectors have to decide whether to change their forward rotation for game three at Suncorp Stadium on July 11.

Representative rules allow Ofahengaue to represent Tonga and Queensland, as Antonio Kaufusi and Felise Kaufusi have done.

He represented the Queensland under 20s in 2014 when Walters coached the side.

"I want to play Origin. I know the rules and I know how it works," Ofahengaue, who grew up in Ipswich, said.

"I can play Origin and I can play for Tonga. Hopefully, I can play for Queensland one day, and as long as that rule still stands I know I will be faithful to Tonga.

Joe Ofahengaue celebrates Tonga's win over Samoa.
Joe Ofahengaue celebrates Tonga's win over Samoa. ©Robb Cox/NRL Photos

"I was born in New Zealand but I have grown up in Queensland and everything revolved around Queensland winning. My era [as a youth] was when they went on that eight-year winning streak when Darren Lockyer and all the big-time players like Petero [Civoniceva] inspired us to do our best and wear that Queensland jersey one day. It would mean the world to me and my family."

Ofahengaue, who said Shane Webcke and Corey Parker had also been inspirations, singled out two other modern-day Broncos as other role models.

"Matt Gillett is one of my biggest Origin players, and Ben Te’o. Just the stuff they did while they were on the field. They were aggressive and hungry to play and that is something I really want to do one day," he said.

"If Kevvie gives me a go I back myself to do a job off the bench. I’ve been doing it pretty much every week for the Broncs so I am familiar with the role."

Ofahengaue spent time in the Intrust Super Cup last year before earning a recall to Brisbane's top 17 where he has been an integral member ever since.

"This year one of my goals was to build off last year’s work and what I put into getting back in the side. I know I had a bigger task to try and keep my spot this year with Sam Tagataese and Patrick Mago fighting for spots as well," he said.

"All I have been thinking about is staying consistent and doing my job off the bench and I am happy to say I’ve been doing that for the last couple of months."

Kiwi international Alex Glenn knows what it takes to play representative football and said Ofahengaue and fellow Broncos back-rower Jaydn Su'A were ready for the Origin cauldron.

Su'A represented the Queensland under 20s in 2016 and was also in Maroons camp at Sanctuary Cove prior to game one of this year's series.

"They are tough boys who can run, hit and they both have footwork,” Glenn said.

"Joffa has a big engine as well and I think he is made for Origin football. I reckon it is only around the corner for the big fella.

“It is not ideal that Gillo [Matt Gillett] is out with his injury but that has given Jaydn Su’A a lot of confidence."

 

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