QUEENSLAND Origin coach Kevin Walters says the state’s forward stocks are growing, with young tearaways Tino Fa’asuamaleaui and Lindsay Collins in the frame for Maroons debuts this season.
The retirement of Maroons hardheads Matt Scott, Nate Myles and Petero Civoniceva in the past eight years has triggered concerns over the depth of Queensland’s options in the crucial engine-room department.
But the outstanding form surge of fearless forwards Fa’asuamaleaui and Collins so far this season has galvanised Queensland’s pack depth and propelled the rookie duo into contention for the Origin series in November.
At 197cm and 115kg, Fa’asuamaleaui has been a ferocious weapon off the bench for the Melbourne Storm, while former Bronco Collins has been a revelation at the Roosters with his no-nonsense charges through the midfield.
The Queensland bench has lacked some size and aggression in recent years, but Walters believes Fa’asuamaleaui, 20, and Collins, 24, can give the Maroons more mongrel, confirming the hungry young guns are firmly in the mix for selection.
“We’ve got more depth in our forwards, which is pleasing,” Walters said.
“We have young Corey Horsburgh as well doing good things at the Raiders, so we have some fresh blood coming through the Queensland ranks.
“Lindsay is a ripper of a talent. The Roosters have done an excellent job bringing him through and that’s how it should be. He is learning from more experienced players and the Roosters have a great blend of junior and senior players.
“He is one powerful forward and I like the way the Roosters are using him. He is making a real impact in 20 and 30-minute bursts.
“He is a tough, and he looks tailor-made for State of Origin.”
Walters is also excited about Fa’asuamaleaui, who has played just 16 NRL games but represented the Queensland under-20s in the past two seasons.
“Tino has been really impressive for the Storm, I have been really impressed with his start to the season,” Walters said.
“He is in a really good system at the Storm so he has some really good habits around what he does on and off the field.
“With the Origin series at the end of the year, it is giving our younger guys like Tino and Kalyn Ponga an extra 10 or 20 games in the NRL to learn their craft and be more seasoned NRL players.
“Tino is a massive fella but he is also athletic for a big forward which suits the game the way it is being played today. He is in a brilliant system in the Storm where they teach the little habits and they expose their players to methods that help us at Origin time.
“Tino is certainly on the radar for me. It’s still a few months down the track so I don’t know who will be in the team, but he would certainly be a great addition off the bench for us with his size. Everyone is now aware of his talent and he is progressing nicely.”