Broncos' Kaufusi can fill Gillett's boots

Murray Wenzel

Melbourne second-rower Felise Kaufusi's smarts and power would see him fit seamlessly into injured Matt Gillett's shoes for the State of Origin opener according to his club and Queensland captain.

Cameron Smith, and his Storm coach Craig Bellamy, both put forward their Origin endorsements for the Bundaberg talent following his telling hand in the Storm's 28-14 defeat of the Gold Coast on Saturday.

The 25-year-old has been the Maroons' 18th man in the 2016 and 2017 series and made his Australian debut in last year's World Cup.

Injuries to Brisbane forwards Matt Gillett (neck) and Josh McGuire (ankle) and Storm teammate Tim Gladsby (thumb) have case questions over the make-up of Queensland's pack this year.

McGuire is hopeful of returning ahead of the June 6 opener in Melbourne but there are spots up for grabs and Kaufusi is front of queue.

"Yeah I think he can handle it ... he is a powerful kid and is quite smart on the field," Smith said.

"If he gets an opportunity at Origin he's going to be a handful for NSW."

Kaufusi scored a second-half try at Suncorp Stadium yesterday and continually poked his head through the Titans' defence in another probing performance.

Coach Craig Bellamy said he had shown enough to prove himself worthy of the Origin arena, particularly with the smattering of Queensland injuries.

"When he does the things well he's good at doing he's hard to handle," he said.

"If he gets a chance in Origin - he's been 18th man two or three times - with Matt Gillett not being available he'd be a good replacement."