Fifita ‘x-factor’ makes him a Maroons must: Hasler

Joel Gould |

Gold Coast forward David Fifita has been in blistering form and is on track for a Queensland recall.
Gold Coast forward David Fifita has been in blistering form and is on track for a Queensland recall.

Des Hasler is no fan of Queensland but even he admits Gold Coast second-rower David Fifita has the x-factor and consistency to deserve a Maroons recall.

Former Maroons captain and Titans ambassador Gorden Tallis has also sung Fifita’s praises and value as a dangerous State of Origin player.

Fifita will start for the Titans in the Friday night clash with Cronulla where a strong display will go a long way towards securing a win for his club side and a return to the Queensland team for the State of Origin series decider in Brisbane on July 17.

The 24-year-old wrecking ball was left out of the Maroons side for the first two Origin matches after playing a key role in last year’s 2-1 series win.

Titans coach Hasler, who played 12 Origin games for NSW, said Fifita had the all-round game to be influential for the Maroons. 

“He has got to be in the mix, hasn’t he? I am not partial to any inside word there but he has certainly got those pieces in his game that would make him pretty handy,” Hasler said.

“It is a big game. It is a decider. They don’t get any bigger and he has certainly got some x-factor in his game.”

Maroons coach Billy Slater has not put a line through Fifita but said before game one the Titans forward had not attained the standards of last year. 

“I think what he has been doing this year is pretty consistent across the piece,” Hasler said.

“He has been interrupted with various injuries but I think his last month of footy has been quite strong.”

In his last match against the Warriors, in a 66-6 win, Fifita had 10 tackle busts and ran for 195m.

This year he is averaging a career-high 156m with the ball and has a commendable 93.6 per cent defensive efficiency.

His 73 tackle breaks is the highest for any forward in the NRL this year, despite Fifita having no pre-season due to a pectoral tear and sustaining an ankle injury during the season.

“Dave had a chequered pre-season. He was injured and when you miss pre-season, you miss the work that goes into building you as a player,” Tallis said.

“For the Titans he has been in our top three players for most of the year.

“Certainly the last couple of weeks he has picked up his act. Dave on any footy field is one of my favourite players and one of the most dangerous back-rowers.

“I don’t pick the Queensland team, but Dave was outstanding against the Warriors.”

The Maroons were out-muscled in the dire 38-18 loss to NSW in game two of the Origin series and Fifita’s presence was missed.

He will have a big say in whether the Titans can beat the third-placed Sharks where he will be up against second-rower Briton Nikora, one of the game’s best hole runners.