The Courier-Mail

Joe puts faith in Broncos future

- EXCLUSIVE PETER BADEL

THE Broncos have staved off Queensland rivals the Titans to secure the signature of their hottest front-row prospect Joe Ofahengaue.

The Courier-Mail can reveal Ofahengaue, the nephew of Wallabies great Willie ‘O’, has inked a two-year extension, with the Broncos set to formally announce his retention today.

Still only 19, Ofahengaue was at the centre of a poaching raid from the Titans after making his NRL debut in Round 2 against Cronulla, 12 months ahead of his planned top-grade entry.

It is understood Gold Coast’s offer was more lucrative than that tabled by the Broncos, but Ofahengaue is determined to repay the man who blooded him, supercoach Wayne Bennett.

Ofahengaue’s ancestry can be traced to Tonga and in his family’s native tongue, their surname means ‘Love to Work’.

It could not be a more apt descriptio­n for the 112kg workhorse, who has impressed Bennett with his toughness, endurance and willingnes­s to learn. “I was always keen to stay,” said Ofahengaue, who will remain at Red Hill until the end of 2017.

“My family love it here and I wanted to stay as close to home as I could.

“I’m just happy and thankful that the club has believed in me enough to give me a twoyear extension.

“I’ve had to play good footy to stay here, so I’m grateful the Broncos have looked after me.”

Ofahengaue underlined his potential as a future Origin star last month, spearheadi­ng the Junior Kangaroos’ 22-20 defeat of the Junior Kiwis in the lead-up to the Anzac Test.

Born in New Zealand, he swore his allegiance to the Kangaroos and Queensland after moving to Australia with his parents at the age of nine.

The 187cm bookend has played five NRL games so far this year and demonstrat­ed his work ethic against Newcastle last week, making 31 tackles and seven hit-ups in a 44-minute cameo.

Ofahengaue, who built his endurance running 800m time trials as a 15-year-old, is already one of the fittest forwards in the code.

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