Broncos exit sparks Origin forward's rise

·2-min read

In the depths of an NRL losing stretch spreading across three seasons, Joe Ofahengaue admits his teammates would have been right not to trust him if he had been picked for Queensland last year.

But after cutting ties with Brisbane, where he "lost the love" for rugby league, the Wests Tigers forward has returned to Maroons' State of Origin camp full of confidence.

Between August 2019 and May this year, Ofahengaue won just one of 26 NRL games as the Broncos sunk to a historic wooden spoon.

"I know you guys keep track of the losses," the prop, who played two games for Queensland in 2019, told AAP.

"We went so bad last year I was just over it.

"Even if I did get selected (for Queensland) I don't think any of the players last year would've trusted me.

"The way we were playing; I didn't look like myself. It was just riding the lows too much and it played with me for a bit.

"You question yourself, not as a footy player, but question the love for working hard again to try and be a good player."

He said the decision to cut short his contract with two years still remaining at Red Hill was the only option.

"I could have stayed, (new coach) Kevie (Walters) would have put up with it, they would have paid me my money and I would have played NRL," he said.

"But it wouldn't have been the right decision for Joe Ofahenguae.

"A lot of people wrote bad stories about me, a lot of articles came out about how much of a dud I was.

"I just kept my head down and worked my arse off.

"I know a lot of people wouldn't have had the guts to do it but I backed myself, made the call to move to Tigers and it's worked out."

Ofahengaue said his regimented lifestyle in Sydney, which has come amid his daughter being born, helped straighten his football priorities.

But he hopes to be more than a one-dimensional option on Wednesday in the Origin series opener in Townsville, where he'll likely come off the bench.

"I worked my butt off this preseason, stripped it all back and have fallen in love with the process again and tried to develop my game and use my skills rather than just be a straight up-and-down front-rower or lock," he said.

"I knew one day I'd get a recall, I had that much confidence so it means everything to be back here."

Queensland will train again on the Gold Coast on Sunday before flying north on Monday, with Reed Mahoney released from the squad to play for Parramatta on Sunday.

That indicates the Maroons are confident utility back AJ Brimson (knee) will join five-eighth Cameron Munster (foot) in proving his fitness for the series opener.