Recalled Queensland prop Joe Ofahengaue has detailed the phone call from former Maroons coach Kevin Walters in one of his darkest hours that gave him the belief he could return to the State of Origin arena.
The 25-year-old Wests Tigers forward was stunned to be named on the bench for the Origin series opener in Townsville just six months after a call from Walters confirmed his worst fears at the end of a season from hell with the Broncos.
Ofahengaue, who played two games for the Maroons in 2019, lost all 15 club games he played for Brisbane last season and was not surprised about the content of Walters’s message as the post-season Origin series loomed.
“Kevvie range me on Wayne Bennett’s behalf and said ‘Wayne will not be picking you for Queensland’, and I said ‘I am glad he is not because I don’t deserve to be there anyway’,” Ofahengaue said.
“It is what Kevvie said next that gave me a boost. He said ‘just go back and work on what you need to and come back and be the Joffa we know you all can be, and you’ll be back in the Origin arena’. They were the words that I needed to hear.
“When he said that it made me remember that I am an Origin player and I was an Origin player in 2019. Last year I really doubted myself a lot, and I even doubted my own ability.
“I was very low, just mentally. I am not just speaking for myself but a lot of boys who were at Brisbane. You play the sport to have fun and do your family proud, but last year none of that was happening for us.”
Joe Ofahengaue is in a better place at the Tigers. Picture; Bradley Kanaris/Getty Images)\Source:Getty Images
Ofahengaue has turned his fortunes around at the Tigers, with his last month of football impressing Maroons coach Paul Green.
“Joe has been consistent. He’s played some decent minutes for the Tigers,” Green said.
“ hey had a challenging start to the year, but I think his form and their form as a team has been really good the last few weeks. He should be fairly confident coming into camp.”
That confidence was on show in Brisbane, with Ofahengaue in an upbeat mood ahead of the team visit to Bundaberg on Tuesday.
“I am proud to be back here. I honestly gave myself no chance, but the only reason I am here is that I have been playing some consistent footy for the Tigers,” he said.
“That is all I wanted to do this year. My first two Origins, I don’t think I played bad at all, but with my form last year, I definitely didn’t deserve to be picked and it was a big eye-opener for me.
“You can’t just think that as every year goes by, and you are playing average, that you are going to be back in this side.
“After leaving the Broncos I went back and worked my arse off in the pre-season at the Tigers with a lot of the forwards there – guys like Alex Twal, James Tamou, Alex Seyfarth, Stefano (Utoikamanu) and Thomas Mikaele.
“That just brought out the fire in me to compete.
“You could say there have been injuries and suspensions for Queensland, but the only reason I am here is because I have worked my butt off to be here.
“I know that everyone here will work their butt off to do their family and state proud in Townsville.”
Source: Read Full Article