NEWS How David Fifita has flown under the radar to become Queensland’s secret weapon for State of Origin I

Kimlo

Kimlo

International Captain
Senior Staff
Apr 26, 2008
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Source: ABC
By Nick Campton
Posted 49m ago

David Fifita is not the kind of player who treads softly but it is only now he's been recalled to Queensland's State of Origin side for the series opener in Adelaide that people are hearing his footsteps again.

The Titans backrower is yet to make his mark in Maroon. It's coming up on four years since his debut in 2019, which was before his time but that's what happens when you're as gifted as he is, and he's only played sporadically in the years since when he's been selected at all. It's a poor return for a player of his ability, which has always seemed limitless.

Few players in any position have his gifts, which are so exaggerated they almost become curses because no matter how well he plays we always expect more. There is no ceiling on David Fifita, just a sky that reaches up forever.

David Fifita looks to offload for the Queensland Maroons during a tackle by the NSW Blues' Cameron Murray in State of Origin I.

Fifita is yet to make his mark in Origin after four years in interstate football. (AAP: Darren England)

A million dollars can buy you a lot of things. It bought Gold Coast a David Fifita and there is only one of those. But a million dollars costs a lot. It puts a target on a player, a big, slow-moving one that is easy to hit. It's a lot to live up to and even if you're well compensated for it the pressure is still heavy.

The Titans do not normally fill column inches or television segments but a player taking home a million dollars when they might not be worth it always does and since the day he signed that contract Fifita has copped the heat.

He copped it in 2021, when he made the most of the set-restart insanity that engulfed the code and scored 17 tries while also finishing the season on the bench, and again last year when he gave solid service to the Titans that even the greatest Fifita sympathiser would concede was below his capabilities.

David Fifita is tackled

Fifita has been playing the most consistent football of his career thus far in 2023. (Getty Images: Bradley Kanaris)

This year has been different. There have been no breathless excoriations that he's a waste of talent, no head-shaking or hand-wringing that he's robbing the Titans like he's bandit knocking over a stagecoach. Until Billy Slater confirmed he was in for Origin I there was little Fifita talk at all.

It's a compliment to him to say so, because "good player plays well" isn't much of a headline. A million dollars only matters when you don't look like it.

After years of being criticised for his work rate, Fifita has found the spirit of the cart horse. He's averaging 170 running metres per game, up from 112 metres per game last year and easily the best of any backrower in the league – Manly's Haumole Ola'kauatu is way back in second place with 128 per game.

While Fifita has upped his involvement he's still got the flashes of attacking play that make him unlike anybody else. He's broken more tackles than any other forward in the league and is still producing plays for the highlight reel, like his length of the field try against Newcastle two weeks ago, or his storming effort against Canterbury on Sunday.

He's also creating chances for others — Fifita has six try assists this year, the most of any running forward in the league and level with Blues halves Nathan Cleary and Jarome Luai. The Titans have been a whirling dervish of free-flowing, point-scoring rugby league madness this season, a neutrals delight for whom no game is ever totally won or lost till the final siren, but their use of Fifita has been their one consistency in a year filled with highs and lows.

Fifita has spent every game on the left edge with the underrated Brian Kelly on his outside and, when fit, the experience Kieran Foran on his inside. Combinations have been built and, after three seasons, Gold Coast are putting their best asset in a position to succeed. There are other issues for their side but everything with Fifita is working like it's supposed to. Good things happen when he gets the ball and he's getting it more than ever before.

That's precisely why Fifita, somehow, is coming under the radar for Origin I. Like his former Keebra Park High and Broncos teammate Payne Haas, he is the most complete version of himself we have ever seen and has the capabilities to dominate Origin like never before. For a player like him, who is capable of anything, nothing is impossible.

That's why Fifita may as well enjoy the last moments of radio silence while he can. You can sneak up on an Origin game but once it begins and the whole rugby league world is watching they see everything. After Origin I, Fifita will once again be at the apex of the rugby league discourse machine, a place he's been in plenty of times before and mostly on the rough end but he's never been in as strong a position to succeed.

By the time the sun rises on Thursday we could all be marvelling at what he's done and the fullness of his journey, that he really might be worth that million dollars and that one day he really might find the limits of his talent which stretches so high and so far we can't ever see the end of it.
 
I've always been a huge fan.......was so disappointed when we couldn't find a way to keep him.

Expecting a huge SOO series from him this year.
 
After losing Flegs and Herbie, it was also disappointing not to be able to get him back. That said, also glad we didn't overpay for him. That that said, when we lose Haas, not getting Dave back will hurt more.
 
Been MIA most of his time at the tits finally showing up to play
 
After losing Flegs and Herbie, it was also disappointing not to be able to get him back. That said, also glad we didn't overpay for him. That that said, when we lose Haas, not getting Dave back will hurt more.
What's this perpetual crap about Haas leaving. Every single post of yours has Haas leaving.
 
What's this perpetual crap about Haas leaving. Every single post of yours has Haas leaving.

I think there is a good chance tbf. We have a very good offer on the table but he still wants to put himself on the open market and look for more money. Never had an issue with players looking after themselves, and i'll probably get the usual you are anti Payne nonsense, but i'd like us to actually say if he doesnt sign before going to market we are going to start looking elsewhere.
 
After losing Flegs and Herbie, it was also disappointing not to be able to get him back. That said, also glad we didn't overpay for him. That that said, when we lose Haas, not getting Dave back will hurt more.
That's difficult to read....surely you can't be drunk and/or stoned at 10am on a Thursday?
 
I think there is a good chance tbf. We have a very good offer on the table but he still wants to put himself on the open market and look for more money. Never had an issue with players looking after themselves, and i'll probably get the usual you are anti Payne nonsense, but i'd like us to actually say if he doesnt sign before going to market we are going to start looking elsewhere.
Yep, don't let him distract the team with his off-field bullshit again. Give him a date, then pull the offer. Hopefully that means other clubs offer him less.
 

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