‘I’m watching you’: Walters’ Origin warning to Bronco

 

Joe Ofahengaue is facing the axe from the Queensland Origin side with Maroons coach Kevin Walters personally contacting the struggling prop in a desperate bid to inspire his form revival for the Broncos.

The underfire Ofahengaue is not only fighting for his future at the Broncos but his place in the Queensland Origin side ahead of Saturday night's derby clash against the Titans at Cbus Super Stadium.

Ofahengaue's 2020 campaign has been disastrous with the Maroons bookend having been suspended three times this year, fuelling speculation the Broncos want to offload his $500,000 contract to the Dragons.

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It’s been a season to forget for Joe Ofahengaue and now he’s fighting for his Origin future. Picture: Getty Images.
It’s been a season to forget for Joe Ofahengaue and now he’s fighting for his Origin future. Picture: Getty Images.

 

Walters handed Ofahengaue his Origin debut for Game One last year and he was Queensland's starting prop in Game Three, but the Maroons coach is concerned by his effort levels and ill-discipline this season.

Walters is ramping up his plans for Origin's inaugural November series and he urged Ofahengaue to lift his game when he confronts Titans rival and Queensland hopeful Jarrod Wallace on Saturday night.

"I am in regular contact with Joe and I've spoken to him about his situation and what he needs to do (to make the Queensland team)," Walters said.

"I am aware of Joe's talents, but he is back this week from suspension and I need to see something from him in the next two or three weeks.

"He's had a disrupted year with a number of suspensions so the biggest issue for Joe has been not being on the field consistently.

"But he has three weeks left in the season to do something and I hope he does because Origin is around the corner and I'm watching all the guys closely."

Queensland Origin debutants Joe Ofahengaue and Broncos teammate David Fifita before Game One of last year’s series. Picture: Adam Head
Queensland Origin debutants Joe Ofahengaue and Broncos teammate David Fifita before Game One of last year’s series. Picture: Adam Head

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The statistical output of Ofahengaue, who turns 25 next Tuesday, underlines his worrying free fall this season.

Just 12 months ago, he was in the best form of his career, clinching a maiden Queensland jumper after a fine campaign in which he produced 36 tackle busts, 16 offloads and 2322 metres at an average of 116m per game.

But this season, Ofahengaue's run metres are down almost 30 per cent and his tackle busts have dropped a whopping 86 per cent. The Tongan prop is averaging 83m per game this season, while delivering just two offloads and five tackle busts.

Walters has spoken to Ofahengaue in a last-ditch attempt to help rekindle his Origin form. New Dragons coach Anthony Griffin, his former Broncos mentor, is said to be weighing up a lifeline for Ofahengaue.

"It's been a tough year for Joe," Walters said.

"There's a few players in that category from struggling clubs where we haven't seen their best form for whatever reason.

"I'm not at the Broncos everyday to explain why Joe has struggled, but the club's form generally hasn't helped him.

"There's a lot of competition for spots this year in the (Queensland) forward pack with the emergence of a number of guys, including Joe's teammate at the Broncos, Pat Carrigan."

Originally published as 'I'm watching you': Walters' Origin warning to battling Bronco


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