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In the politest possible way, David Fifita does not care what you think.

He does not care if you think he hasn’t scored enough tries this season or if you think he doesn’t go in for enough runs in a game.

He also doesn’t care what you think about his playing contract, his pay packet, his diet.

What he does care about, however, is doing his job for his team, and this simplified mindset and approach to his football is helping him to play some of the best football of his career.

“Every person has their opinion and their say," Fifita said. "But for myself, I was just working really hard in the pre-season, getting myself right."

Former Maroons and Titans forward Nate Myles, who has been working with the Queensland forwards, said he - like others - had seen a change in Fifita this season.

“I think he's a lot more relaxed,” Myles said.

“I think he's a lot more – I wouldn't say completed as a man or an athlete – I'd say just a little bit more confident in himself. I think that comes down to his club football.

"I'm not sure what he's doing at home, but it seems to be transferring onto the field and into his form and his consistency.”

Slater on the eve of Origin II

Always a talent, Fifita seemed destined to dominate in Origin after representing Queensland throughout the junior representative levels from Under 16s and captaining the Murri side to being selected for the Under 20s.

However, after playing all three games in his debut year in 2019, he was overlooked in 2020 before playing another two games in 2021.

Last year, Fifita was overlooked again by selectors again as he struggled with injuries and inconsistent form, but that fire to reclaim his place burned fiercely, with the Souths Acacia Ridge junior outlining earning his Maroons jersey back as a goal earlier this season.

“In my first year, when I when I first started here [at the Titans], I played Origin … but I think we have got the right puzzles and the right pieces for myself to back there,” Fifita said at the time.

“And I want to be back there … I know what I need to do to deserve that spot back, so I'm just working hard on myself.”

For Myles, a veteran of 32 games for Queensland and a winner of the Wally Lewis Medal as player of the series, those setbacks may have been exactly what Fifita needed to fully understand and appreciate what it takes to play Origin.

“Sometimes when you first come into Origin, you can feel sometimes a little bit overwhelmed because of the love that we have for the Maroon jersey; and sometimes when you get into Origin, you don't take that opportunity,” Myles said.

“I think that with Dave – from Game One and from his consistent performances with the Titans and even at training – you can see that he's a lot more confident and definitely looks and feels like he belongs.”

The secret is there is no real success to Fifita's newfound success this year. 

Just simple, boring, regular, consistent, hard work.

And while it may come off as another rugby league cliché, being happy off the field and secure in his future after signing a three-year contract extension with the Titans has also been a weight off his shoulders.

“I think he's more relaxed because he's obviously put the hard work in and he's just he’s confident in what he can do and what he can bring to the team,” his club captain Tino Fa’asuamaleaui said from Origin camp.

“When you have that, it definitely makes it easier to relax and get your job done.”

David Fifita with his Titans captain Tino Fa'asuamaleaui in Queensland camp.
David Fifita with his Titans captain Tino Fa'asuamaleaui in Queensland camp. ©Scott Davis / NRL Photos

By focusing on doing his role and not trying to take on all the responsibility to “be the man”, Fifita has been more comfortable to take a back seat and do the so-called tough stuff that can sometimes be overlooked. 

His personal try-scoring output may be down, but his try assists are on the up, something his club coach Justin Holbrook is relishing seeing as he meets his potential.

“I say it every week now – Dave is the one that deserves the credit. He has worked really hard and he wants to win. We all want to win and he is playing a big part in that,” Holbrook said recently.

"I’m glad everyone is realising the hard work that he is getting through, because he is playing fantastic for us.”

Fifita said Holbrook had him and his team heading in the right direction, and even though the results were mixed so far, the side was learning lessons with each game they played together.

“Justin's been massive, we're all in it together and we all want to win," Fifita said. "Justin, our assistants Jimmy [Lenihan] and Whitey [Brett White] are doing a really good job down there trying to improve week-to-week.

“Obviously, the results haven't been going our way and we have been up and down, but we're working as hard as possible to fix that and have a defence focus.

“We're all - you can say young, but I don't want to use that an excuse - but we're all still learning, still developing and still learning the game as we go, year-by-year, week-to-week and day-by-day.”

Fifita’s partner Shaylee Bent, who is also playing with the Titans this year and is in camp herself – preparing for her own Origin match representing the Sky Blues – said she had witnessed first hand the hard work being put in.

Game II, 2015: Inglis breaks try-scoring record

“He’s definitely just changed his mindset. We've been focusing on food, we've been focusing on recovery, just the things he does off the field as well,” Bent said.

“If he's happy off the field, he's happy on the field.

“And, I think since signing his new deal with Titans, it has given him a good mindset that he knows where he's going to be in his future.

“He's just done so well and I'm so proud of him. We definitely do motivate each other; it's good because like we have a set routine and we know what we're eating and training and all the fuel we're putting in our body.

“It's really good to lean on each other in those aspects … (but) I definitely know more about the food, so I'm the one that does all the food, and preps it all.

"He shows up and he eats it,” Bent added with a laugh.  

“So, I’m definitely in control there or otherwise he will snack too much.

“We’re both second rowers and Dave is a unique player in that he's someone that, when he's on the field, he's someone I'm looking out for because he's just such a unique and naturally talented person.”

David Fifita enjoying Queensland camp.
David Fifita enjoying Queensland camp. ©Erick Lucero / QRL

In Origin, everything is heightened, and players can write their own folklore with a standout run, fend, tackle or try.

Myles, for example, was known as an enforcer and a warhorse; someone you could rely on to get the job done for Queensland no matter what his form may have been like going into any Origin series.

Entering his seventh game in maroon, Fifita is yet to fully realise the type of Origin player he can be, but this year, he is more equipped than ever to find his feet in that arena.

“It's a process … because he's so talented, he's so fast and strong for a big man that people expect a lot from him,” Myles said of Fifita’s continuing development.

“A lot of football goers won't see the one percent plays; they won't see the week-in-week-out consistent side of it. They want Dave to run 80 metres and 60 metres and bump out of six tackles and get a quick play-the-ball or score the try.

Once he emphasises a little bit more about all the little things that he's doing right, he'll just keep improving.

Nate Myles on David Fifita

“A lot of focus for Dave – and whether or not new people at the club have helped him or the coaching staff – is about getting the system right for him.

“But I think for Dave, it's himself, and it's a credit to him and how he's approached the year and obviously his pre-season.

“I have got to take my hat off to him, he's doing fantastic.

“I said this to one of the coaches, I think he is so much more intelligent than people give him credit for in regards to his football IQ, and what he does on the field is so, dramatic and spectacular.

"That's just not luck."

Acknowledgement of Country

Queensland Rugby League respects and honours the Traditional Custodians of the land and pay our respects to their Elders past, present and future. We acknowledge the stories, traditions and living cultures of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples on the lands we meet, gather and play on.

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