The Broncos' Joe Ofahengaue gets wrapped up by the Eels at Suncorp Stadium last month.
The Broncos' Joe Ofahengaue gets wrapped up by the Eels at Suncorp Stadium last month. DAVE HUNT

Young Bronco says Origin beats Tonga

YOUNG Broncos forward Joe Ofahengaue says he will play for Queensland over Tonga if he is forced into a selection dilemma next week.

The 22-year-old has been one of the standouts for Brisbane this year, stepping up alongside Tevita Pangai Jr in a potent younger pack.

His form has not gone unnoticed by Queensland selectors and he was once again one of the Broncos' best in their disappointing loss to the Storm over the weekend.

Gene Miles was the first to bring Ofahengaue's name into the selection conversation ahead of Origin I and fellow Maroons selector Darren Lockyer said last week that the forward was a contender for his Origin debut in game two.

However, Ofahengaue is of Tongan descent and has played for the second-tier nation three times, including in last year's World Cup campaign.

Tonga will play Samoa on the same weekend as Origin II and Ofahengaue is expected to be selected by Mate Ma'a coach Kristian Woolf.

Although adamant he is not turning his back on Tonga, Ofahengaue said he would not pass up the opportunity to play for Queensland if both teams came knocking.

"It's a no-brainer," he said of his possible selection dilemma.

"Everyone knows Queensland and Origin is the top of our sport and it's the game everyone wants to play.

"If I was get to picked (for Queensland) over Tonga I would pick Origin, but I am still loyal to Tonga.

"I'm still available for Tonga and I want to keep it that way. This is the reason why they changed the rules for us second tier nations. It would be stupid to not make myself available."

Ofahengaue was born in Auckland but moved to Australia at a young age and played his junior rugby league for Ipswich Brothers.

Ahead of Origin I, he spent time in the Queensland camp alongside fellow development players Anthony Milford, Jaydn Su'A, Moses Mbye, Dale Copley and Brenko Lee.

"It was everything I expected," Ofahengaue said of his time in Origin I camp.

"Just to meet the boys and be around the professional players and stars of our game, it was a good experience for myself.

"It would just mean the world (to debut). It's been a childhood dream since I moved here.

"If I get to throw on that Queensland jersey, I wouldn't take it for granted and hopefully I could cement myself in that team."

Ofahengaue has been named on the bench for Brisbane ahead of Saturday's clash with the Sharks.

Coach Wayne Bennett made just one change to the line-up that lost to the Storm, with centre James Roberts (Achilles) to return this weekend.

Ofahengaue said he wasn't necessarily playing with Queensland or Tongan selection in mind, but just to help lift the Broncos above eighth place on the ladder.

"I'm doing everything I can to make this team better," he said.

"All of us young forwards are buying into that this year and whatever comes off the back of that is a reward. If I do earn a (Queensland) jersey by doing my job, I'll be happy."