Josh McGuire believes Tevita Pangai Jr and Joe Ofahengaue are ready for Origin.
Josh McGuire believes Tevita Pangai Jr and Joe Ofahengaue are ready for Origin.

‘Knocking on the door’: McGuire backs Tongan duo for Origin

AUSTRALIA lock Josh McGuire believes Tonga pair Tevita Pangai Junior and Joe Ofahengaue are ready for State of Origin football - if they want to play it.

McGuire is bracing to face his fellow Brisbane forwards when they clash in Saturday's historic Test between the Kangaroos and the Mate Ma'a in Auckland.

It will be the first encounter between the two nations and the first time McGuire attempts to bring down the powerhouse Tongan young guns.

"I'm excited for Tevita Pangai and Joe, two guys I have got to experience every week at training," McGuire said.

"They are very passionate Tongans. The occasion is going to great."

Tonga's rapid rise as an international powerhouse has been largely credited to the defection of Andrew Fifita (Australia) and Jason Taumalolo (New Zealand).

However, the island nation has also been boosted by the decisions of Pangai Junior and Ofahengaue to commit to the cause.

Pangai Junior remains eligible to be selected for NSW, while Ofahengaue joined Queensland camp this year as a squad member.

McGuire, who has been a Maroons regular for the past four years, said the sky is the limit for Pangai Junior in particular.

"He's very powerful, strong and fit. Very professional," McGuire said.

Tevita Pangai Junior will start in the second row for Tonga against the Kangaroos.
Tevita Pangai Junior will start in the second row for Tonga against the Kangaroos.

"Joe and him are both knocking on the door for Origin football.

"The good things about the way the rules are this year, that they can play both.

"It's good for the game to have those guys playing at the highest level.

"Those guys are very much capable of playing at any level."

With 13 Test matches under his belt - six of those for Samoa - McGuire has plenty of experience to pass on to his younger teammates.

But McGuire insisted he is ready to pass the baton on to arguably two of the most destructive talents in the NRL.

"I'm at a stage now in my rugby league career where I'm fortunate enough to stand behind these big guys and let them go for gold," he said.

Joe Ofahengaue will come off the bench for Tonga against Australia.
Joe Ofahengaue will come off the bench for Tonga against Australia.

"I'm very fortunate enough to be at a club at the Broncos where we have TPJ and Joe. Guys who are 115kg but are fit and fast and have footwork.

"I was fortunate enough to have guys who helped me along the way and if I can do anything to help them I will.

"But at the moment I don't have to do too much."



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