David Fifita wants to prove himself against the best and he will get that wish on Thursday night when he lines up against Dragons firebrand Tariq Sims in a battle which will be pivotal in the Broncos teenager’s quest to play for the Maroons this year.
Fifita told NRL.com earlier in the pre-season that he had written down his goal of representing Queensland in State of Origin this year. If he can get the better of NSW Blues forward Sims it will go a long way to convincing Queensland selectors that he is a genuine contender for an Origin debut at some stage of the series.
Fifita said he had been working closely with his right edge defenders Kodi Nikorima, James Roberts and Jamayne Isaako in preparation for a Dragons onslaught. Coming right at Fifita and Nikorima will be Sims, as he did last year while scoring a hat-trick in a 48-18 demolition of Brisbane
"We have spoken about it so we know what is coming on our edge," Fifita said.
"He is a good player Tariq, with his aggression. I like to come up against aggressive people. I’m a second-rower. He’s a second-rower. If you want to be the best you’ve got to take on the best. There are good second-rowers in my position and I just want to match it with them. We’ll see what happens on game day."
It is round two of Fifita v Sims. In the final last year Fifita scored a try himself early but left the field in the first half with an ankle injury. He does remember a vocal Sims giving the Broncos a serve and learning plenty from the experience.
"Because they were winning on the scoreboard he was rubbing it in our faces," Fifita said.
"I was nervous last year starting against St George [Illawarra] at Suncorp. That game didn’t go too well and wasn’t our day but I get the opportunity again. I learned from my experiences last year so I just have to do my job."
Fifita’s rise from playing Mal Meninga Cup under 18s for Souths-Logan last year to now being an integral member of the Broncos side has been stunning and that hype around him continues to grow.
"For me it is all about staying grounded with my league. The boys always keep me grounded and I am learning here every day with Lexi [Alex Glenn], Gillo [Matt Gillett] and [Jaydn] Su’A. They are all teaching me because they are second-rowers as well," Fifita said.
Fifita is related to Sharks star Andrew Fifita and his brother David.
Twelve months ago when you Googled ‘David Fifita’ the only player that came up on Wikipedia was the David Fifita now playing with Wakefield Trinity and formerly with Cronulla, although there are two David Fifitas with entries now.
"He was the better David Fifita. He’s the superstar," Fifita grinned.
"When I was 15 we played a curtain raiser at Suncorp to the Indigenous All Stars and that was the first time I met him. Ever since we’ve had that connection and the following year I met Andrew.
Broncos v Dragons - Round 3
"Then this year I was fortunate enough to play with Andrew in the All Stars. I was his roomie. We are real close. My great grandparents and his great grandparents are related. Andrew and David keep a close relationship with me, keep me grounded and are always testing me."
Fifita said the best advice Andrew gave him was to work hard and stay level-headed. The teenager conceded they shared the same name but different personalities.
"He is funnier. He is a real character I just go with the flow and chill out," he grinned.
There will be nothing chilled about Fifita’s clash with Sims, and coach Anthony Seibold has warned as much.
"Our right edge has a big challenge of handling Tariq. He is a real weapon for them," Seibold said.
"We have made some subtle changes to how we defend and would like to think we’ll be a bit more aggressive there on the edges. It is one thing to see things on the video and make changes, but a lot more difficult under the bright lights of Suncorp Stadium and doing it."