Tino the Maroon to start on the field in his Origin debut
RUGBY LEAGUE: In a year of seemingly never-ending milestones, Gympie’s NRL champion Tino Fa’asuamaleaui has been backed in to play a starring role in his State of Origin debut on Wednesday night.
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Not even a week removed from winning his first NRL premiership in his Melbourne Storm farewell, “big Tino” was named as starting lock forward in Wayne Bennett’s Queensland squad to take on NSW in Origin I at the Adelaide Oval.
As if a premiership ring wasn’t enough, Tino’s stellar seven-try season earned him the
Storm’s Billy Slater Rookie of the Year award on Tuesday night.
But the celebrations had to be shaken off quickly, with the 20-year-old heading straight into Camp Maroon alongside premiership teammates Cameron Munster, Christian Welch, Brenko Lee and Felise Kaufusi.
The underdog Maroons must face up to a heavily backed and heavily experienced Blues side, and Tino will be counted on to emulate every bit of the intimidation his Queensland idols Petero Civoniceva and Gorden Tallis brought to the Origin cauldron.
Tino spoke of his admiration for both men recently with NRL.com.
“Petero was one of my idols growing up, being a big fella in the middle who could really move. I look at what he has done at club and Origin level and will try to do the same,” he said.
“The only time I have spoken to (Petero) is when I got my Queensland under 20s jersey presented to me last year. For it to be Petero … I was starstruck.
“Being a Queenslander, the Broncos were the No. 1 team so I always looked up to the Broncos and fellas like Petero and Gorden Tallis.”
It’s Queensland vs NSW in the first State of Origin Match at the Adelaide Oval on Wednesday night, from 7.10pm local time.