He felt instant relief when Tino Fa’asuamaleaui’s phone number appeared on Tino Fa’asuamaleaui’s phone display on Sunday night.
Slater rang to inform Captain Gold Coast Titans that he was on the side of the Queensland Maroons in Game I of the State of Origin 2022 series.
“They called me and I had the biggest smile on my face,” Fa’asuamaleaui said.
It was no shock for critics and fans alike – soaring forward was the lock for this year’s series.
But just 48 hours before coach Maroons Slater started calling his front, Origin, a devastated but honest Fa’asuamaleaui, admitted that he didn’t think he was playing well enough to guarantee a place on the team.
He first spoke at a press conference after the unsatisfactory 35:24 defeat of the Gold Coast with Brisbane Broncos and told the media that he had disappointed his team. In subsequent interviews, he claimed that he would be “surprised” if he wore the Maroons jersey in Game I.
Fa’asuamaleaui reflected on his post-match comments and said that the confession was not made from emotions, but from the real idea he had.
“It was legitimate, I thought I would not be here in the camp,” Fa’asuamaleaui said.
“I was surprised when they first called me because I thought I wasn’t playing well enough and losing on the club floor didn’t help, of course.” But I’m glad I’m here. “
Despite his own concerns, Fa’asuamaleaui was excellent for his NRL club this year, running alone more than 200 meters in the first half when his team lost to the Broncos. He is also the reigning Maroons player, who has made Origin in the last six games since his debut in 2020.
Slater never cared about the ability of the 22-year-old and said Fa’asuamaleaui was “too hard” on himself.
“He’s interested … Tino takes care,” Slater said.
“I spent some time with him down in Melbourne when he was about to become a first grade student. She takes care of her leg, it’s important to him, and it’s visible … it shows.
“He’s probably too hard on himself because he’s focused on results.” But we need Tino to focus on his actions and what he brings to the team. ”
Slater delivered the same message to Fa’asuamaleau during Sunday’s phone call and confirmed that he deserved to be on the side.
And now for Fa’asuamaleaui, it’s not just about believing in oneself, but about bringing that confidence into the Origin Arena at Wednesday’s series launch in Sydney.
“Billy said I had to back off and I know I deserve to be on this team,” Fa’asuamaleaui said.
“Sometimes it can be hard, but the guys around me – Billy, (Cameron) Smithy, Johnno (Thurston) – give me the confidence to come and do work for Queensland. I have to be sure, I have to make sure I am as soon as I get on the field. “
He said that although things with the Titans at this stage of the season were not exactly on schedule, there was still much he had taken from his previous experience in 2022 to bring them to the Maroons campsite.
In particular, Fa’asuamaleaui hopes that this year’s promotion to Captain of the Titans will help him find a louder voice in the Queensland team.
Commentators also tipped him off as the future captain of Queensland, with Slater also calling him the Maroons leader at Monday’s team press conference.
“With this knowledge and experience as a leader, I know I should not be afraid to say anything and really support and have my voice,” Fa’asuamaleaui said.
“That’s something I learned as a captain with the Titans and something I’ll do here.” But also lead by your actions. That’s the captain I want to be and come here, I want to do the same. “
Fa’asuamaleaui said he was very inspired by the players around him in the Maroons camp, especially from his fellow front rower Josh Papalii.
But one of his biggest influences is undoubtedly Slater.
Fa’asuamaleaui first met the Queens giant after signing a contract with Melbourne Storm in 2017. Although they never had the opportunity to play together in the NRL, Slater became a mentor for Fa’asuamaleaui, not only on and off the court. also.
As he tries to develop his self-confidence, he can count on Slater to stay firm in his corner and show him how to develop that self-confidence.
“Billy has done so much for me,” Fa’asuamaleaui said.
“He did a lot, especially when I went there (to Melbourne), with the little things I have to do in my game. Even now he shows me a video and advises me what to do.
“Helping me to be a better man and being a good person off footy is what helped me a lot.” That’s why I respect him so much.
“She teaches me to respect everyone, that’s the first thing.
“But also off footy, it’s about keeping your head held high and you really trust you.”
“Even outside of footy, you think you don’t have to be confident, but being such a person and stepping away from footy is something he advises me to do.”
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