Queensland selectors have today received a shot in the arm after Gold Coast forward Moeaki Fotuaika turned his back on the Kiwis and set his sights on a maiden Maroons selection.
Newscorp broke the story on Wednesday morning after it became known that the 20-year-old had pledged his allegiance to Queensland following an eligibility inquiry from Maroons coach Kevin Walters.
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This development comes after many feared Fotuaika may have chosen a different path.
Despite growing up on the Gold Coast, the front rower held dual eligibility having been born in Gisborne, New Zealand and playing for the Junior Kiwis in 2018.
So uncertain were the Maroons hierarchy over Fotuaika’s eligibility, he was not even listed as an Origin permitted player on the QRL’s official register.
However with all ambiguity now alleviated, Walters stated that the now bona fide Queenslander is in the selection frame.
“Moe is eligible for Queensland,” Walters said.
“I spoke to him last week and he has confirmed he wants to play for us.
“He has some strong cultural ties to Tonga and New Zealand but Moe has always been on my radar and I’m glad he is committed to play for the Maroons.”
Since his NRL debut in 2018, Fotuaika has played 54 first grade games and is this season enjoying a breakout year.
The 107 kilogram forward has averaged 144 metres and 36 tackles a game for the Titans this season.
Walters credits the big man’s skill, toughness and footwork as the reasons for his season.
“He has been outstanding for the Titans for the past two seasons,” Walters said.
“I just love his toughness, he has battled a wrist problem and he has soldiered on, so he’s genuinely on the radar for an Origin debut.
“From my point of view, Moe is very consistent and gets through a mountain of work with no fuss.
“He is certainly tough enough for Origin and he is starting for the Titans as well, so he is among the props I am looking at for this year’s series.”
Fotuaika’s Titans teammate Jai Arrow also heaped praised on the consummate youngster.
“Moe is a genetically gifted young man,” he said.