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Wests Tigers recruit Joe Ofahengaue.

Two key meetings, both ending on good terms by vastly different means, landed Joe Ofahengaue at the Wests Tigers.

The first meeting was while he was still a Bronco, wearing the maroon and gold he has known since age 17, but wary his time at Red Hill had rapidly run out.

Ofahengaue had already sniffed the breeze of a disastrous wooden spoon campaign and read reports his three-year contract was up for discussion with new Brisbane coach Kevin Walters.

"Kevvy and I have a pretty good relationship, I think," Ofahengaue said on Monday.

"We talked a lot before he got the job and after he got it, he called me in.

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"I wasn't too convinced that it was going to be a good meeting. I went in there feeling I was going to be let go and he told me straight up. That's what I wanted.

"I looked him in the eye and asked if he wanted to coach me and he said if I've got an offer on the table, I should take it.

"And that's what I did. I've got no grudges against the Broncs or Kevvy. I love that club.

"It's given me eight years and it's given me everything I have right now in my footy career."

I looked him in the eye and asked if he wanted to coach me.

Joe Ofahengaue

Talks between Ofahengaue and the Dragons amounted to little, with Brisbane and St George Illawarra unable to land on the same figure for the rest of the 25-year-old's deal.

Having sat down face-to-face with Walters after steeling himself for the toughest of conversations, Ofahengaue feared his first impression on Michael Maguire could cost him.

"It was kind of awkward, I met him on Zoom," he said.

"[Tigers football manager] Adam Hartigan said we're going to have a meeting. I thought it was just Harty, my manager and myself.

"I've gone in and next thing I've got the CEO, the chairman and Madge sitting there. I was shocked. I didn't look presentable, it was awkward for me.

"But I sat down with them, they said what they wanted to say and I liked what Madge said. He wants players here that want to win, that want to work on being the best they can be.

"That's someone I want to be. I want to be a winner, but I also want to work on my craft this year.

"I'm just looking to get better. I'm not looking to be a hero here. I just want to get better, work on my craft and be the Joe I know I can be on the field."

Ofahengaue's on-field output last season went the same way as Brisbane's. Effectively off a cliff.

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His average running metres dropped from 116 in 2019 to 91 per game, while tackle busts (36 down to seven) and offloads (16 down to four) led to Ofahengaue losing his Queensland Origin spot.

But with Josh Aloiai agitating for a release and James Tamou and Stefano Utoikamanu shoring up a new-look Tigers pack, Maguire is backing Ofehangaue to find his best once more.

And told him as much, eventually.

Joe Ofahengaue.
Joe Ofahengaue. ©Jason O'Brien/NRL Photos

"I slung him a text because I didn't hear from him for about a week," Ofahengaue said.

"I said 'mate I really want to come to your club. I loved what you had to say. If you want just give me a call back'.

"Thank God he called me back. We had a wonderful chat for about half an hour while I was at a resort on the Gold Coast. I told my missus 'we're going to the Tigers'."

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