At right about this time last year – Queensland Under 18 captain David Fifita was on the field with his young team mates, ready to face off in an opposed session against the Queensland Maroons.
This year, it’ll be him the young players will be aiming up against; something that goes to highlight just once more his rapid rise to the top.
The Brisbane Broncos gun is one of three new faces in the 2019 Queensland line-up, alongside his team mate and fellow forward Joe Ofahengaue and Wests Tigers captain Moses Mbye.
Kevin Walters speaks on three Queensland Maroons debutants
“I did an opposed session last year against some of these boys (the Maroons) last year when I was in the Under 18s – but to do it against some of the (Queensland Under 18) boys I know (will be special),” Fifita said during his first day at Camp Maroon.
“I have got heaps of friends in that 18s side – but to do the opposed against those boys will be pretty weird you know?
“Running out with the boys ... I’m looking forward to it, I’ve got good mates in that side who look up to me, they’re my good mates of mine.
“(My experience can show) you just need a little bit of belief, discipline in what you do one and off the field. Anything is possible.”
For Ofahengaue, it was an emotional call-up to the side and the culmination of a goal he had been working so hard to achieve.
“I knew I had a foot in the door last year and I knew that if I could play some consistent footy this year, I would probably catch the eyes of selectors,” Ofahengaue said.
“Kevvie was big; he was ringing me every couple of weeks telling me what I could be improving on and what I can keep doing for my game.
“(But) I wasn’t really worried about being selected halfway through the first six weeks as we were losing and I was more worried about getting a win on the board (for the Broncos); that was my main priority at the start of the year and now that I am here – that’s just crazy.”
Both players spoke about how grateful they were for the support of their family, friends and team mates in their rugby league careers – something that fellow debutant Mbye spoke about with passion.
“It’s something that, not only for myself – but you make a lot of people proud, in terms of your parents, the people who have been by your side since you started playing footy, the late nights at training, the lifts you need to get to training, the neighbours who jumped in to help to take you to training, grandparents – it keeps going on,” the Noosa Pirates junior said.
“There are a lot of people (that help you) get to this level; it’s something I am proud of and I hope those people are proud too.”
The rising talents named by coach Kevin Walters in the new-look Maroons squad have a big week ahead of them, starting with the official team launch tonight and the annual Maroons Fan Day tomorrow, which will take place in Charleville.