Queensland Maroons urge new enforcer Tino Fa’asuamaleaui to mantain the rage in decider in battle with NSW Blues’ Payne Haas
“Payne was the big dog at schoolboy level so Tino took him on – that’s the competitor he is,” Mammino said.
Haas would later play down reports of any junior rivalry with the new Titans signing and said Mammino was “riding his coat-tails” to get some attention. Whatever the genesis of the disagreement, it’s clear there will be more to play out next week.
And the Maroons loved the passion and aggression shown by their new enforcer.
Queensland captain Daly Cherry-Evans was seen admonishing Fa’asuamaleaui after the game, but Maroons back-rower Felise Kaufusi said he didn’t expect either of the powerhouse middle forwards to take a backward step.
He said Fa’asuamaleaui had to keep everything within the rules, but wanted to see his fellow Storm premiership winner “smash him … legally”.
“In the heat of the moment they are both very passionate people for their state,” Kaufusi said. “When things are going either way, people are going to fire up. That is what they did.
“I expect them to go head-to-head [again]. Whether or not punches will be thrown, I don’t know, but they will be ripping into each other on Wednesday night. It will be good to watch that battle.
“[Tino] is aggressive and he is young. You definitely don’t want to lose that aggression, just be smarter and smash him legally and rip into him with his defence or his attack.”
Queensland fullback Valentine Holmes was another who urged Fa’asuamaleaui to take the fight to Haas, but called on the Storm forward to show a degree of restraint and try to dominate through punishing defence, not flying fists.
“Not in a silly way … but we want to go after all their middles to put it over them,” Holmes said.
“We don’t want [players] to be sent off for nothing. We need to be smarter this week, be stronger and hit harder.”
So few players let their hands go in the NRL these days that it almost had a sense of novelty value, with Haas firing off first before Fa’asuamaleaui responded over a pack of players who were doing their best to separate the angry duo.
And while it was a costly clash for both of them, it might have been exactly what the Maroons needed going into a home decider in front of what is expected to be a sold-out Suncorp Stadium, which can now host its full capacity of 52,000 as COVID restrictions are relaxed.
Queensland were being badly beaten through the middle on Wednesday night on the way to a heavy defeat, but nobody could accuse Fa’asuamaleaui or throwing in the towel. Haas, who is usually a hard-working, but fairly relaxed campaigner for the Broncos, was no shrinking violet either.
It sets up a mouth-watering, old-school confrontation between the pair, who could square off in Origin for the best part of the next decade as well as clash in the local NRL derby now Fa’asuamaleaui has joined former Bronco David Fifita at the Titans.
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