Fifita at centre for Queensland is a no-brainer

David Fifita came out earlier this year and made a statement around his State of Origin aspirations for 2019.

“I always set goals and at the start of the pre-season I wrote down that to play Origin this year for Queensland and to play round one for Broncos were my goals,” the 19-year-old said.

“I’ve been setting goals ever since I was 15 and every time I set the goals they came true. I love to write them on the notepad on my phone, and look at them."

If you asked most players at age 18, having only played 11 games of NRL in their debut season, they would say they’re either not ready for Origin, or they don’t believe they’ve done enough to be selected.

Quite frankly, most of the time these players are right - they're too young to be thrown in the deep end of an Origin series; however, those players are not David Fifita.

David Fifita and Kalyn Ponga during 2019 All Stars. Photo: NRL Images
David Fifita and Kalyn Ponga during 2019 All Stars. Photo: NRL Images

Like young gun superstar Kalyn Ponga, Fifita has long been an Origin star in the making.

The 107kg forward has dominated at every level he has tried his hand, and you can already forge an argument as to why he will be a once in a generation player.

Fifita was the first player since Maroons legend Mal Meninga to play Auswide Bank Mal Meninga Cup, Intrust Super Cup and NRL in the same season.

Fifita was near unstoppable during his time playing Auswide Bank Mal Meninga Cup, scoring 13 tries in 10 games, including back-to-back hat-tricks in Round 5 and Round 6.

Further to his efforts, Fifita was named captain of the Queensland Under 18 side, and was also selected for the Queensland Under 20 side, but had to withdraw due to NRL commitments.

David Fifita as Queensland Under 18 captain in 2018. Photo: QRL Media
David Fifita as Queensland Under 18 captain in 2018. Photo: QRL Media

Fifita played four games of Intrust Super Cup for Souths Logan Magpies, where he averaged 165 running metres and eight tackle breaks per game.

This form saw 18-year-old Fifita rewarded with an NRL debut for the Brisbane Broncos, where he played 11 games, averaged 101 running metres and scored three tries, during his rookie season.

So, the question that you’re probably wondering is why would Fifita play centre for the Queensland Maroons?

The simple answer is to fight fire with fire.

With the recent retirement of long-term Queensland centre and Maroons legend Greg Inglis, Queensland are in need of a new centre pairing.

Latrell Mitchell is arguably one of - if not the best - centre in the game, and the 103kg weapon got the better of opposing centre Will Chambers throughout the 2018 Origin series.

Greg Inglis as Queensland Maroons captain and David Fifita as Queensland Under 18 captain in 2018. Photo: QRL Media
Greg Inglis as Queensland Maroons captain and David Fifita as Queensland Under 18 captain in 2018. Photo: QRL Media

Chambers has recently moved to left centre for Melbourne Storm, and you would imagine Kevin Walters will do the same, with the immediate retirement of Inglis.

This leaves an opportunity for a new right edge centre to be named for the Maroons.

Mitchell, like most players in the NRL, relies heavily upon confidence; you give him an inch and he will take a mile.

In 2018, Mitchell knew he had the physical advantage over Chambers from the get go, and exposed the Maroons centre in defence on more than one occasion.

Fast forward to Round 1 this year when Souths Sydney Rabbitohs took on reigning premiers Sydney Roosters, and Inglis single-handedly shut down the powerhouse centre, limiting him to just 53 metres with the ball in hand.

Mitchell, like Inglis, is used to rag-dolling his opponents and sending them flying to all areas of the ground with his fend; however, on this occasion he met his match in the form of 105kg gun centre Inglis.

David Fifita for the Broncos and Latrell Mitchell. Photo: NRL Images
David Fifita for the Broncos and Latrell Mitchell. Photo: NRL Images

The key to containing Mitchell is putting someone on him who is of equal size, strength and speed.

Fifita is 107kg, has a ridiculous amount of upper body strength, is solid in defence, and would arguably be one of the fastest players at the Broncos over 100 metres.

Don’t believe me? Have a look at his 2018 highlights package.

Fifita is one of the few players who has the mental toughness and confidence in his own ability - to match that of Mitchell.

Last year we saw Ponga make his debut for the Maroons, where he spent 52 minutes out of position at lock.

New South Wales Blues legend Andrew ‘Joey’ Johns labelled the performance as “best debut in Origin history”, despite Ponga playing in a losing side.

If Ponga can play 52 minutes out of position at lock, and have his performance labelled as the best debut in Origin history, who is to say Fifita won’t have the same impact for Queensland playing in the centres?

** All articles relating to Queensland Maroons selection published prior to the official team release are speculative and only reflect the opinion of the author