While he’s done it many times in the past – Queensland Maroons debutant Joe Ofahengaue knows running onto the Suncorp Stadium turf next Wednesday night is not going to be anything like before.
State of Origin is a different game - not only for players, but for fans as well, and it can be safely said, the Brisbane Broncos forward is looking forward to the experience.
“I have played in front of a packed Suncorp before – but I think it’s going to be different 'cause it’s just going to be all maroon; only one colour out there,” Ofahengaue said.
“I am going to be so excited. I’ve been to a packed Suncorp (for an Origin game) and I know how packed and loud it’s going to be.
“But I am just going to try and not let it get to me and going to try to calm my nerves.”
Those nerves, mixed with huge levels of excitement, were plain to see as he went through the formal initial stages of becoming a Maroon – with photo shoots, media commitments and suit fittings crossed off in amongst getting to know new team mates.
“I just am going to worry about enjoying the week first,” Ofahengaue said when asked about getting through to game day.
“When I do get excited, I just got to take a step back and enjoy the moment and enjoy the week.
“I have heard a lot about Origin camps and I obviously there are all top athletes here and I want to pick their brains – but not too much, I just want soak up all the (experience) and enjoy everything.
“It’s like Christmas so I will try and enjoy it."
The 2019 Emerging Origin squad graduate has been on the cusp of selection for a number of seasons and for every step of the way, he has had the support of his family and his partner Sofi behind him.
Her brave fight with cancer has been well documented and Ofahengaue said his selection was the second best news he had received this year – the clear first being the news of Sofi’s remission.
“It was actually and ... it’s good to reflect on the year we had last year,” Ofahengaue said.
“She’s been behind me and I’ve been behind her with everything, and all the hard work is just paying off at the moment.”
For his first game of Origin, he won’t be going through the experience alone, as he will be joined on the bench by fellow first-gamers Moses Mbye and Brisbane Broncos team mate David Fifita.
“When I saw his name, I was so happy for him,” the former Ipswich Brothers junior said.
“Dave worked his butt off to be in our squad last year (in the Broncos) and he debuted last year off the back of hard work and he trained hard every week.
“He has earned the trust of the boys at the Broncs. To be elevated to the State of Origin with me, coming off the bench with me, it’s going to be crazy.”