One of those is Maroons incumbent Welch, who made his debut in game three last year and has been a rock for the Storm in the front row this season.
He said Fa’asuamaleaui had made a point of lifting his game against the better sides in the competition and would do the same if Bennett threw him a Maroon jumper for the Origin opener in Adelaide on November 4.
“Tino has been a huge part of us at the Storm, I think he’s played the most games this year,” Welch said. “If he gets picked [for Queensland] he will do a fantastic job as we’ve seen all year from him, you’ve seen him do well against all the best teams.
“He has a great combination of size, power and skill but he also has a big motor. For our yo-yo time here at the Storm, our beep test, I think he had the best time out of our forwards and he beat most of the backs too. That’s an underrated part of his game.”
Fa’asuamaleaui remembers Origin night at his family home in Widgee, just outside of Gympie, and remembers being in awe of Gordon Tallis rampaging his way through Blue defenders. He didn’t mind the biff, either, back when it was allowed.
“It would be a dream, I’d love that,” Fa’asuamaleaui said of the Queensland talk. “I’ve dreamed of that since I was a kid watching Gordon Tallis. I don’t want to think too far ahead. I want to win a premiership here at the Storm.
“Like any Queensland kid, Origin was hectic. We’d just throw on whatever was Maroon and get around it. We loved watching the fights.”
Fa’asuamaleaui has become a damaging ball-runner for Melbourne, especially close to the line, but he has far more layers to his game than most would suspect. He’s become known as a sponge for knowledge within the Storm environment, with fellow big man Jesse Bromwich a particular favourite when it comes to asking questions about forward play.
“It’s been amazing to see how far he has come in one season. For me, his biggest strength is that he’s always willing to ask the question and to learn. He applies himself all the time, he’s always asking me how to do things, asking questions to Cam [Smith] as well,” Bromwich said.
“It’s refreshing in this day and age that people can still do that. Not a lot of people do that, where he is pretty relentless when it comes to trying to get better.”
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