Tino Fa’asuamaleaui might not be the Gold Coast’s biggest name recruit of 2021 but he is quickly emerging as the forward leader of a hungry young pack that can carry the Titans towards the promised land.
The 21-year-old joined good mate David Fifita in making a high-profile move to the Gold Coast this season and while Fifita is stamped as the marquee man, Fa’asuamaleaui may just become the more bankable star and future captain.
With his hitman presence stalking the midfield and inspiring hard carries leading the way up front, Fa’asuamaleaui already appears to be a barometer of the Titans' intensity after just two games for the club.
He was among their best in the Titans’ 28-16 win over Brisbane on Friday night, with his bruising defence a highlight as he looks to throw his big shoulders into every tackle with intent.
“Each game I just want to slowly improve and hopefully become a leader and lead from the front,” Fa’asuamaleaui said.
Match Highlights: Titans v Broncos
“We have a lot of leaders in this team, especially in the middle with 'J Wal' (Jarrod Wallace) and 'Moey' (Fotuaika) and the boys off the bench are all leaders.
“I wouldn’t mind it (being the leader of the pack) but hopefully I just focus on my job and I do become a leader one day.”
Coach Justin Holbrook insisted his team has more than one forward leader but knows he has recruited a star in the making who will only get better in the coming years.
“I’ve loved everything about him since he joined the club,” Holbrook said.
“He has taken that (forward leader type role) upon himself but it’s not really what’s needed to be honest … we don’t have one leader, our whole pack is capable of it.
“He has only just turned 21 and he has a lot of improvement about him and the way he is going about his game is great.
“We’re really happy to have him and in particular for our fans to know we’ve got a guy like that in our side is pretty impressive.”
Already a premiership winner with the Storm in 2020, Fa’asuamaleaui is a throwback to the days when his idols like Gorden Tallis, Petero Civoniceva, Shane Webcke and Sonny Bill Williams were menacing opponents.
Fa’asuamaleaui said he doesn’t go out onto the field looking to target any particular player but rather focuses on making good contact with whoever is in his way.
Fifita at his unstoppable best
“I love the challenge but I don’t really narrow it down to one person, I just focus on my job and if they happen to be in front of me I will try to put my best foot forward,” he said.
“All those fellas that were tough and willing to do anything for their team, I sort of looked up to that.
“I just want to get my defence right for the team. I had a few missed tackles and a few hits (in round one) where I didn’t stick.
“I felt like I let the team down so I wanted to make up for it this week."
The Titans head to Townsville next week where they will face the North Queensland Cowboys in a late Sunday game. It is the type of game the Gold Coast must win if they’re to become a contender in 2021.
“We can’t have one good game and slacken off the next, we need to be consistent to be a good team in this comp,” Fa’asuamaleaui said.
NRL Magic Round Brisbane 1-Day Passes are now on sale with eight massive games across round 10 at Suncorp Stadium this May. With the league's best players all heading to Brisbane, you'd hate to miss it! Tickets at NRL.com/Tickets