Haas or Tino? Brutal Broncos snub spurs Titans star
Titans weapon Tino Fa'asuamaleaui is itching to rip into the Broncos following revelations Brisbane overlooked him in favour of Origin nemesis Payne Haas.
The Courier-Mail can reveal Queensland Origin star Fa'asuamaleaui quit the Broncos after the club opted to invest heavily in NSW rival Haas.
Fa'asuamaleaui grew up near Gympie as a Broncos supporter and signed with Brisbane's development squad on the Sunshine Coast as an 11-year-old.
But his pathway became blocked as a 16-year-old when the Broncos launched an all-out assault on Haas, poaching him from the Titans and later signing the Blues star to a record six-year contract.
Fa'asuamaleaui opted to head to Melbourne, launching his career at the Storm under super coach Craig Bellamy and becoming an NRL sensation in 2020.
He went on to win last year's NRL premiership and made his Origin debut, famously fighting Haas during a heated Game Two before joining Gold Coast in the off-season as one of the club's star recruits.
Fa'asuamaleaui, 21, said he was excited to feature in his first south east Queensland derby when the Titans tackle Brisbane at Cbus Super Stadium on Friday night.
"Watching the Queensland derbies last year, they're always fiery and the boys will be up for it," he said.
"It will be very fiery and I can't wait to get amongst it.
"The Broncos were my team growing up. I supported them.
"Since I was 11 or 12 I was in their development squads on the Sunshine Coast until I was 16 and I made my way down south.
"I thought it'd be a good opportunity to go down there and be under Craig and (Cameron Smith) and the older fellas down there.
"It was the best move I've made. I learnt a lot from them and am learning a lot here too."
Haas and Fa'asuamaleaui had some brutal encounters in junior Origin games and their rivalry exploded on the big stage last year.
Currently serving a three-game suspension following an off-field incident, Haas will not feature for the Broncos on Friday night, robbing the derby of a mouth-watering encounter.
Fa'asuamaleaui's manager, Simon Mammino, said the Broncos let "Big Tino" slip to Melbourne.
"Tino was at the club before Payne Haas, but the Broncos brought him to the club and then eventually signed him to a six-year deal," he said.
"Tino wasn't initially offered a top-squad contract by the Broncos until the Storm came into the picture. The Broncos thought Tino could play, but they only showed real interest after Melbourne came along.
"The Storm tabled a very good offer which reflected their commitment to him and as part of it Tino went straight into the full-time squad.
"The Broncos also brought Payne Haas in over the top and those two factors convinced Tino to leave Brisbane. The best pathway to the NRL in Tino's eyes was leaving the Broncos to get an education under Craig Bellamy.
"The Broncos had big plans for Payne Haas and he has gone on to be a very good player."
Fa'asuamaleaui had a mixed debut for the Titans in last Saturday's loss to New Zealand.
He made 17 runs for 129m but had some defensive lapses as the Titans suffered a disappointing Round 1 defeat following a pre-season of hype.
"There's a lot of things to work on and a lot of good things we can take out of that game," he said.
"We need to improve our discipline and little areas in defence. We will come out better this week and hopefully get the win.
"We all shied away from what we're good at and didn't really use that on the weekend. We know what we need to do and will hopefully use it this week.
"We don't see it as too much pressure, that's what everyone else is saying. It's good pressure and motivation for us to show everyone what we're made of and can do.
"We've got to get this week right and hopefully get the win."
Origin winger Phil Sami will replace centre Brian Kelly (broken hand) in the only change for the Titans, who trained at Cbus Super Stadium on Tuesday night to prepare for the night game conditions.
Originally published as Haas or Tino? Brutal Broncos snub spurs Titans star