Fifita looked born for Origin football. Image: Adam Head
Fifita looked born for Origin football. Image: Adam Head

The Maroons legends that shaped Fifita

Maroons young gun David Fifita has revealed how the backing of Queensland front-row icons Shane Webcke and Petero Civoniceva helped inspire his stunning debut in Origin I.

The first player born in the 2000s to play State of Origin, the 19-year-old Fifita played with the composure and maturity of a forward 10 years older to help the Maroons to an 18-14 defeat of NSW in a gripping series opener.

All week the talk was whether Queensland's bench could match NSW's interchange firepower. The Blues had the 118kg Payne Haas, the slick feet of Cameron Murray and the fine line-running of Angus Crichton.

But in Fifita, the Maroons found the interchange muscle and brutality to break down NSW in midfield in the decisive final quarter at Suncorp Stadium.

Playing at the ground that represents his home turf at the Broncos, Fifita's 27-minute cameo featured 10 tackles, 12 hit-ups, 84 metres ... and one bullocking charge on the hour that announced his arrival as an Origin player.

It is mind-boggling to think Fifita was playing for the Queensland under-18s just last year. Even harder to believe for Fifita was the support he received from Webcke and Civoniceva, the latter of whom mentored him in Camp Maroon and presented him with his maiden Queensland jersey.

"My debut is something I will never forget," Fifita said.

"Petero and Shane Webcke were great support for me before the game.

"Shane actually spoke to me during the week, he said congratulations on how you are going.

"Those two guys are legends, so to have those two guys supporting me ... I just sat back and said, 'Wow'.

"Petero presented me with my jersey and it's something I will never forget.

"Petero was great for Queensland, Australia and the Broncos and he is someone I look up to and can lean on and talk to."

 

Fifita stamped his credentials with an Origin debut this year. Image: Cameron Spencer/Getty Images
Fifita stamped his credentials with an Origin debut this year. Image: Cameron Spencer/Getty Images

 

The 108kg Fifita has been labelled the new Gorden Tallis and his rampaging charges in Origin showed he was not overawed by the code's toughest arena.

"The speed and the physicality of the game was really different to club level, but the emotion and adrenaline got me going," Fifita said.

"I was pretty stoked getting the result with the boys in front of my friends and family.

"I was really nervous (the day before the game), that's when it really sunk in. I embraced all the emotion when I got on the field and I just wanted to go out there and do my job.

"I did get a bit nervous but it's more good nerves, it's something I need to perform to my best. 'Kevvie' (coach Kevin Walters) gave me a simple game plan, he said when you get out there, just run hard and tackle hard and that's what I wanted to do.

"It's been a great opportunity to play in this Queensland jumper and I won't let it go."