Carpool buddy's Qld debut thrills Arrow

Ed Jackson
·2-min read

A man of few words with the world at his feet, Moeaki Fotuaika is being tipped to shine on his State of Origin debut by Queensland teammate Jai Arrow.

The Gold Coast forward has been named on the interchange bench for next week's game two in Sydney, where Queensland can wrap up the series with a victory.

Sitting alongside him will be Arrow, who forged a friendship with Fotuaika at the Titans while driving him to training ahead of the 2018 NRL season.

"When I first came to the Titans I was picking him up and driving him down to pre-season training where I got to know him a lot, driving down on the M1," Arrow said

"He is not only a great bloke but a great player as well.

"He has earned his mark in this team and I am sure he will do an outstanding job."

Despite only being 20, Fotuaika enters his first Origin as a proven NRL campaigner.

The Titans' player of the year in 2019 has played 55 matches across three seasons and is already an on-field leader of Gold Coast's pack.

Arrow is confident a big future in rep footy lies ahead for his old carpool buddy.

"The scary thing is he is only turning 21 in a few days so he has got the world at his feet," the South Sydney-bound backrower said.

"He is so quiet and such a gentle giant off the field, but when he gets on the field he is an animal.

"He loves the tough, gritty stuff and he has brought a lot to his game this year.

"He is starting to string a pass. He's got an offload. He is powerful, he's got good leg speed and he can whack in defence.

"He has got the attributes of a great front-rower."

Fotuaika is one of three changes to the Maroons line-up for next week's clash in Sydney.

With AJ Brimson (foot) and Christian Welch (concussion) injured, the Maroons have opted for Valentine Holmes at fullback and Canberra's Dunamis Lui to make his debut in the front-row.

Fotuaika is on the bench, with Coen Hess dropped after an average game one display and Jaydn Su'A promoted to the starting lineup.

Kurt Capewell (groin) has retained his starting spot while Brenko Lee, a late scratching due to a calf injury before game one, is one of four reserves along with Corey Allan, Josh Kerr and Edrick Lee.

The Maroons will have a day off on Saturday before returning to training at CBUS Super Stadium on Sunday.