Des Hasler's big call on David Fifita amid huge Queensland decision for State of Origin 3

Hasler believes Billy Slater simply must select Fifita for the Origin decider.

Des Hasler may be a NSW fan through and through but he has still given Queensland Maroons coach Billy Slater some advice, pick David Fifita for the State of Origin decider. The omission of Fifita from the Maroons' 20-man squad for Game 1 was a major shock as the powerhouse Titan has been one of the standout edge forwards in 2024 and he also featured in all three games of last year's 2-1 Maroons series win.

Fifita was overlooked for the series opener in favour of Jeremiah Nanai and Jaydn Su'a, who started in the second row, while Felise Kaufusi and Kurt Capewell were favoured on the bench. And after a comfortable Game 1 victory, the Titans star didn't earn a recall for Game 2. But after NSW levelled the series in dominant fashion it was made abundantly clear that Slater must make some big changes ahead of the series decider.

Pictured L-R: Des Hasler, David Fifita, Billy Slater
Des Hasler believes Billy Slater simply must select David Fifita for the Origin decider. Image: Getty

Fifita will start for the Titans in the Friday night clash against the Sharks and a solid performance will likely earn him a recall to the Queensland team for the series decider in Brisbane on July 17. Titans coach Hasler, who played 12 Origin games for NSW, said Fifita had the all-round game to be influential for the Maroons and says his inclusion gives Queensland raw power they have desperately lacked.

"He has got to be in the mix, hasn't he? I am not partial to any inside word there but he has certainly got those pieces in his game that would make him pretty handy," Hasler said. "It is a big game. It is a decider. They don't get any bigger and he has certainly got some x-factor in his game."

In Game 2, Queensland were out-muscled and their forward pack dominated, most notably when the game was on the line in the first half. As a whole, the Maroons lacked punch and intensity which showcased the need for some reinforcements.

GOLD COAST, AUSTRALIA - JUNE 22: David Fifita of the Titans runs the ball during the round 16 NRL match between Gold Coast Titans and New Zealand Warriors at Cbus Super Stadium, on June 22, 2024, in Gold Coast, Australia. (Photo by Chris Hyde/Getty Images)
David Fifita's 73 tackle breaks is the highest for any forward in the NRL this year.

Fifita's 73 tackle breaks is the most of any forward in the NRL this year, despite the second-rower having no pre-season due to a pectoral tear and sustaining an ankle injury during the season. And former Maroons captain Gorden Tallis believes he has to be seriously looked at for Game 3. “For the Titans the last couple of weeks, he has been in our top three players for most of the year,” Tallis said on NRL360.

“Dave on any footy field is one of my favourite players and one of the most dangerous back-rowers. When you get beaten like that (Queensland’s 38-18 loss in Game Two), no one ever owns a Queensland jersey. I know that. I have been in that situation... I don't pick the Queensland team, but Dave was outstanding against the Warriors."


Former State of Origin forward Scott Sattler, however, says there isn't even a decision to be made as Fifita simply must be in the side for Game 3. “We are lacking that real size, aggression and punch without Tom Flegler and Tino Fa’asuamaleaui so I’m going to be one of many that throw it up there, and Billy knows better than all of us, but I think the size, speed and potential X-factor of David Fifita has got to be taken into consideration for game three,’’ Sattler told SEN.

“I have never seen Queensland bullied and intimidated as much as we were that first half. No excuses, we came out of the blocks OK but just sheer size dominated us. Angus Crichton just bullied everybody, Val Holmes got rag-dolled all night and Reece Walsh was like a deer in headlights at times.

“There is a lot that needs to be discussed around the selection table, not so much if there are any changes but I think the bench really needs to be looked at in some way, maybe one or two there ... the big concern for Billy is how we got bullied and couldn’t match the intensity.”

with AAP