Laurie Daley floats startling theory over David Fifita's axing from Queensland Origin team

Fifita's Queensland axing comes less than two weeks after his Roosters backflip.

Billy Slater's decision to leave David Fifita out of his Queensland team for State of Origin I stunned the NRL world and left many asking how the star back-rower could be overlooked. And Blues legend Laurie Daley isn't buying Slater's explanation that it has to do with form, stating that he believes he has been exiled for going back on his word to the Roosters.

Fifita missed the opening month of the NRL season through injury but has been back to his rampaging best over the last few weeks. He was enormous with his involvement and impact against the Broncos on Sunday, racking up 230 run metres, two try assists and six tackle breaks.

But instead of selecting Fifita, Slater opted for Jeremiah Nanai and Jaydn Su'a in the second row and Eels forward J'Maine Hopgood to make his debut off the bench. While in a true showing of how far down the pecking order Fifita has dropped, Brisbane’s Brendan Piakura and Dolphins veteran Felise Kaufusi were also named ahead of him in the extended squad.

Pictured left Laurie Daley and right David Fifita
Laurie Daley believes David Fifita's Maroons axing could have something to do with his shock decision to backflip on the Roosters. Image: Getty

Perplexingly Slater said on Monday morning that Fifita's axing was simply due to the form of others being better than Fifita. "I've got no doubt that Dave will get back to the footy he played last year, and I'm sure he will wear a Maroons jersey in the future again," the coach said.

“Dave created a really high standard for his footy last year. He just hasn’t quite got to that standard this year. I spoke to Dave last night, he’s taken the disappointing news like a true Queenslander and wishes the best for the footy team.” However, former Blues mentor Daley suggests that his omission likely has more to do with his recent Roosters backflip than with his form in 2024.

Fifita’s axing comes just 10 days after the 24-year-old backflipped on his decision to leave the Titans at the end of the season. The Titans forward was heavily criticised for the move, having reportedly agreed a four-year deal worth around $3.3million with the Roosters.

And Fifita's last-minute change of heart has been likened to Manly halfback Daly Cherry-Evans' famous Titans backflip. Following that decision, the Sea Eagles legend was booed by NRL fans up north and he was even labelled a "filthy cockroach" in a back page story by The Gold Coast Bulletin. After staying loyal to Manly he was exiled from the Queensland team at State of Origin level.

SYDNEY, AUSTRALIA - JULY 12: Daly Cherry-Evans of the Maroons holds aloft the State of Origin Shield after game three of the State of Origin series between New South Wales Blues and Queensland Maroons at Accor Stadium on July 12, 2023 in Sydney, Australia. (Photo by Brendon Thorne/Getty Images)
Daly Cherry-Evans was exiled from the Queensland team at State of Origin level for three years after he backflipped on his decision to join the Titans.

Despite delivering at NRL level, Cherry-Evans spent three years out of the Maroons fold before finally being recalled for Game III of the 2018 series. And Daley believes a similar thing is now happening with Fifita. "I’m shocked David Fifita isn’t there. He played all three games last year," Sky Sports radio host Gerard Middleton said on Monday. "Conspiracy theory. The backflip. How that’s viewed externally? Whether they think that’s the right mindset."

Daley replied: "And he was great last year too. Didn’t Daly Cherry-Evans, when he made that decision to backflip too, didn’t he get left out of that Queensland side?"

"I’m pretty sure around that time, he might have been exiled," he continued. "That might be part of it. I’m not sure. But yesterday’s performance from Fifita was damaging, the amount of work that he got through. I must say, if I’m NSW I’m happy he’s not in that squad."