Titans prop Moeaki Fotuaika has revealed why he has committed to Queensland and the role Maroons legend Petero Civoniceva played in his decision.
The 22-year-old is set to be named in a Maroons squad for this year's State of Origin series this week, among other players from the eight teams no longer in the finals series.
When he was seven years old, Moeaki was one of 10 siblings who moved with their parents to Queensland from Gisborne in New Zealand.
He had attended a Queensland under-18 camp and represented the Junior Kiwis in 2017, but had not decided on his senior representative allegiance until recently.
Civoniceva, also the Queensland team manager, impressed Fotuaika with the way he handled the negotiations to get him over the line as a Maroon.
"I was exchanging texts with Petero about if I was available for selection and I just told him that I would be available and that I am keen if I get picked in the squad," Fotuaika said.
“When I got the text message [from Petero] I was blown away. I was pretty scared to text back, but I did text back and he is a genuine guy and down to earth.
“I definitely just didn’t jump at the decision to play for Queensland. I talked to my parents about it and they were happy with it, as well as my family. As long as my family is happy with it then I am happy and that is all that matters."
Fotuaika, who will be available to play for Tonga at next year's World Cup if not picked for Australia, said it would be "a great challenge" to test himself in the Origin cauldron.
"And if I was to get picked, to learn off the players in the team would be a big learning curve for me and leading into the future as well," he said.
"I was born in New Zealand and moved over when I was seven so I have been here the majority of my life and pretty much call Australia home."
Civoniceva said Fotuaika had been "a standout for the Titans for several years now".
"Despite his young age he plays with that promise and grit that are needed in his position," Civonicvea told NRL.com
"His selection is warranted and it is a great thing for him and Queensland that he is getting that recognition that he thoroughly deserves.
"I am confident he can take the next step into representative football, and it doesn’t get any bigger than State of Origin.
“It was a big decision for Moe to make and I know it was not taken lightly. I mentioned to him that it would be entirely up to him and to talk to his family.
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“For me, he is one of the best young footballers in the game. It will be up to the selectors which way they go [with their 17] but I most definitely believe he is ready."
Fotuaika understands the Maroons' history and the calibre and style of forwards he has looked up to comes as no surprise considering the tough and no-nonsense way he plays the game.
“There are definitely a lot but the players that come to mind are definitely Petero Civoniceva, Shane Webcke, Matt Scott and those kind of players,” he said.
“They are straight forward and just do their job, run hard and get the boys forward
"If the opportunity came I would take it with both hands and do it the best I can."
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Fotuaika was at Keebra Park High School on the Gold Coast from grade eight onwards and already has a rapport with the likes of former schoolmates David Fifita and AJ Brimson, who will form the core of Maroons teams for years to come.
In 2016 when Keebra Park was beaten 26-24 on the final siren by Westfields Sports High in the final of the GIO National Schoolboys Final, Fotuaika was part of the front-row interchange with Payne Haas and Thomas Mikaele, with David Fifita off the bench.
Fotuaika's showdowns with NSW front-rower Haas loom for the next decade but the duo's old Keebra Park coach Glen Campbell said Moe would not be overawed.
"There will be no love lost on the field and Moe will be up for the challenge that is for sure and will more than hold his own,” Campbell told NRL.com.
“I never thought that Moe was in Payne’s shadow. He has always been a high-quality footballer, but in Payne’s final year of school he was the one getting all the media attention so it probably gave that impression.
"Payne scored a try in the  final but Moe went through the middle and set one up. He was as dominant as Payne during the year."