Daniel Saifiti is expecting Queensland to niggle and place a target on his head when he makes his State of Origin debut on Sunday night.
The 23-year-old has giant shoes to fill coming in for injured Newcastle teammate David Klemmer, but insists he has no qualms about the task at hand trying to prove himself in a do-or-die showdown in Perth.
“I’m sure they’ll be pretty niggly but I enjoy that type of stuff,” Saifiti said.
“This is Origin football. I can’t wait. I’m not shying away from that. I know that winning the middle of the field goes a long way to winning the game, especially State of Origin. I’m aware of it. I know what’s to come. I’m ready for it.”
Apart from Latrell Mitchell’s surprising axing for game two, the choice of Saifiti has arguably been the most talked about selection.
On the back of injuries to Klemmer and Payne Haas, Saifiti has come from left field to snare a Blues jersey – a selection that has raised the eyebrows of many.
However the man himself cares little for the bemusement some may share.
“I don’t pay too much attention to it to be honest,” he said after landing with his Blues teammates in Perth on Monday.
“The coaching staff have picked me so that’s all that matters. The boys are backing me too. I just listen to my close friends, my teammates, my family … that’s all that matters.”
One of the first people to ring Saifiti after he learned of his selection was Klemmer.
The injured Knights prop, who is unavailable for game two in Perth due to a broken wrist, has little doubt Saifiti will thrive in the Origin arena.
"When I spoke to Klem, he just told me 'soak up the week it goes real quick and just gave me pieces of advice and all I've been thinking about is the 80 minutes ahead,” Saifiti said.
"He just said it's fast, it's physical, he said I would love it - that it suits my game. He said just enjoy it, you're going to play alongside the best players in NSW.”
Saifiti, who has represented Fiji in the Test arena, has long been a passionate Blues fan, admitting he found himself quite animated watching game one with friends and family.
“I love it. I’m still a fan now, even watching game one,” he said.
“I was still firing up at the TV. I was at my brother’s house with a few of the other boys and their partners watching it. I've never had a teammate play in the NSW team, so when I saw Klem run out there, it was pretty surreal.
“I was hurting for the boys out there. They lost by an intercept and they weren’t at their absolute best. I’m still a fan.”
Match: Maroons v Blues
Game 2 -
Venue: Optus Stadium
- Nine Network