During the past 30 years, Queensland have boasted some of the best forwards to have played in the NRL era.
This illustrious list includes the likes of Petero Civoniceva, Cameron Smith, Shane Webcke, Steve Price, Gorden Tallis, Bob Lindner, Trevor Gillmeister, Tonie Carroll, Sam Thaiday, and of course the late Artie Beetson.
However, while Maroons have enjoyed the services of these champion forwards - the depth has not always been there in these positions, and an injury or two could cause major team disruption.
The tide however, maybe set to turn with a plethora of young and talented forwards emerging throughout the junior representative programs.
Below is a list of next generation forwards that QRL Media think will be pushing their claims to represent the great state of Queensland in coming years.
1. JOE OFAHENGAUE – BRISBANE BRONCOS
Along with fellow young forwards Christian Welch, Jaydn Su’A, Rhyse Martin and David Fifita, Ofahengue was recently selected in the 2019 QAS Emerging Origin squad. The Ipswich Brothers junior has been involved in the Queensland junior representative system for a number of years, and this past year went particularly close to being selected in the Queensland Maroons squad following an outstanding year with the Brisbane. With key forwards Sam Thaiday and Josh McGuire having left the Broncos, Ofahengaue will be looking to impress for his side, and ultimately push for Queensland Maroons selection.
2. CHRISTIAN WELCH – MELBOURNE STORM
Welch is another player who also came close to selection for the Maroons in 2018, after being named as 18th man ahead of Game III. The 24-year-old forward is no stranger to the Maroons set-up, having previously trained with Queensland side for their Captain's Run in the lead up to Game II. With Queensland currently undergoing a ‘changing of the guard', Welch will be looking to push his claims for a potential Maroons call up in 2019.
3. RHYSE MARTIN – CANTERBURY-BANKSTOWN BULLDOGS
The PNG Kumuls representative may have been a shock selection to some in the 2019 Emerging Origin squad, however, the 25-year-old Proserpine product has taken little time to make his mark in the NRL, finishing the 2018 season as the most accurate goal kicker in the competition with 95% accuracy (kicking 36 goals from 38 attempts). Martin also played a key role in securing Intrust Super Premiership grand final and Intrust Super Championship victories for the Bulldogs in 2018. With the departure of first choice goal kicker Valentine Holmes, Martin could well rocket into contention for the 2019 State of Origin series.
4.JAYDN SU’A – BRISBANE BRONCOS
Su’A is another forward whose name was thrown up for Queensland Maroons selection in 2018. Su’A has represented Queensland throughout the junior representative levels and enjoyed a standout season with the Brisbane Broncos in 2018. The 21-year-old was called into Camp Maroon earlier this year to train with the side ahead of Game I in Melbourne. With the departure of experienced forwards Sam Thaiday and Josh McGuire from the club, Su’A will be looking to lock down a starting spot in the backrow in 2019. With experienced Maroons backrowers Gavin Cooper and Matt Gillett now in the back end of their careers, a Queensland Maroons jersey may not be too far away for Su’A.
5. DAVID FIFITA – BRISBANE BRONCOS
The Souths Logan product was a revelation in 2018. The 107kg forward began the year playing for Souths Logan in the Mal Meninga Cup and captained the side to the premiership before being promoted to the club's Intrust Super Cup side in Round 11. The former Keebra Park captain played four games of Intrust Super Cup where he averaged 165 running metres and eight tackle breaks per game. As a result, he then made his NRL debut with the Brisbane where he made 11 appearances between Rounds 16-26. The 18-year-old wrecking ball also captained the Queensland Under 18 side and was also selected for the Queensland Under 20 team; however had to withdraw due to NRL commitments. Fifita was recently named in the Queensland Emerging program and will likely feature for the Maroons in the near future.
6. PATRICK KAUFUSI – MELBOURNE STORM
The younger brother of Felise Kaufusi, the Bundaberg junior enjoyed a standout year in the Intrust Super Cup with Melbourne Storm feeder club, Easts Tigers. The 24-year-old has previously played for Queensland in the Under 20s, and in 2018 was selected in the XXXX Queensland Residents side. Kaufusi was a standout for Easts throughout the season, and was named Intrust Super Cup second-rower of the year at the QRL Awards Night. With the retirement of Ryan Hoffman, the 24-year-old will be looking to lock down a permanent spot in the Melbourne Storm 17 in season 2019. Will Kaufusi follow his brothers Antonio and Felise and go on to represent Queensland? Only time will tell
7. PAT CARRIGAN – BRISBANE BRONCOS
Another young Brisbane Broncos forward who has a big future ahead of him. Carrigan enjoyed a breakout year with Broncos feeder club Wynnum Manly Seagulls and was rewarded for his form with selection in the XXXX Queensland Residents, Queensland Under 20s and Junior Kangaroos sides in 2018. The 20-year-old also captained Queensland Under 20 team to their first victory since 2012. The 104kg forward will be knocking on the door for a spot in the Broncos 17 in 2019, and with his resume, it's likely rugby league fans will see him feature for the Maroons at some stage in the near future.
8. KEEGAN HIPGRAVE – GOLD COAST TITANS
The young Gold Coast tear-away enjoyed a breakout year with the Titans in 2018, with 19 appearances. Hipgrave has previously represented Queensland and Australia at junior rep levels, and in 2015 he was captain of the Queensland Under 18s side. The 21-year-old is a versatile forward who can play anywhere in the forward pack, and is well known for his power and aggression. His former Intrust Super Cup coach at the Tweed Heads Seagulls Aaron Zimmererle was quoted earlier this year saying; “He (Hipgrave) will knock himself out in the effort of trying to put someone two foot under the ground”. The adrenaline junkie is making a name for himself at the Titans and will be looking to cement a spot in their starting 13 for the 2019 season. Hipgrave will form part of the 2019 Titans pack that includes Maroons forwards Jarrod Wallace and Jai Arrow. If he can continue to develop his game as they have, there is no doubt Hipgrave will place himself in the frame for a potential call up in the next few years.
9.COREY HORSBURGH – CANBERRA RAIDERS
The Redcliffe Dolphins junior has enjoyed a successful season with Canberra Raiders feeder club Mounties in the Intrust Super Premiership. Horsburgh was rewarded for his form with selection in the 2018 Queensland Under 20s and Junior Kangaroos sides. Recently, Horsburgh has been compared to former Brisbane Broncos and Queensland Maroons workhorse Corey Parker. Like Parker, Horsburgh can also get a ball free in traffic, which is an asset to his game. Keep an eye out for the 20-year-old as he looks to make a name for himself in the NRL, and potentially one day even State of Origin.
10. TINO FA’ASUAMALEAUI – MELBOURNE STORM
Much like fellow Queensland young gun David Fifita, Fa’asuamaleaui is a powerful young forward, who at just 18 years sits at 197cm tall, at weight of 107kg. Similar to Fifita, Fa'asuamaleaui was selected for the Queensland Under 18 and Under 20 sides, and was called up to to the Junior Kangaroos in 2018. He scored a double in Australia's 42-30 victory over the Junior Kiwis at Mt Smart Stadium earlier in the year. Fa'asuamaleaui enjoyed a strong season in the Intrust Super Cup with Storm feeder club East Tigers. Similar to fellow Tigers forward Kaufusi, Fa'asuamaleaui will be looking to cement himself a spot in the Melbourne 17 for the 2019 season. Given his rapid development; it would not be unexpected to see Fa’asuamaleaui running around for the Queensland Maroons in years to come.
11. BEAU FERMOR – NEWCASTLE KNIGHTS
The young Queensland backrower was recently awarded the NSW Rugby League Jersey Flegg and Newcastle Knights Under 20s player of the Year. The Dalby product finished the season as the competition's leading try scorer, and was also a part of the Queensland Under 20 team that defeated NSW 30-12 in July. Fermor joined the Knights in 2018, and has just recently re-signed with the club on a new two-year-deal, which will see him join the NRL squad in 2019. Keep an eye out for the young Queensland talent Fermor as he looks for forge a name for himself in the NRL, and potentially higher honours.
12. THOMAS FLEGLER – BRISBANE BRONCOS
The 20-year-old Tully Tigers junior starred for Brisbane feeder club Souths Logan Magpies in 2018 and his form saw him selected in the Queensland Under 20s and Junior Kangaroos sides. The young Bronco has recently been compared to Queensland legends Shane Webcke and Petero Civoniceva with the 105kg forward known as an enforcer and is a powerful front-rower with a strong running game and good leg speed. Queensland's new assistant coach Justin Hodges is adamant the young forward has what it takes to become a regular feature in the Brisbane Broncos forward pack, and potentially maybe one day even the Maroons.
13. REED MAHONEY – PARRAMATTA EELS
The Nambour product played his junior footy for Kawana Dolphins and Beerwah Bulldogs and made his NRL debut in Round 14 against the North Queensland Cowboys. Mahoney went on to play nine games for the Eels in 2018, and as a result, was selected for the Queensland Under 20s side. Mahoney is one of the best young hooking prospects coming through the Queensland junior representative programs and will no doubt feature in Emerging programs and potentially even State of Origin in years to come.
14. HARRY GRANT – MELBOURNE STORM
The 20-year-old Rockhampton product has made a name for himself in the Intrust Super Cup in 2018, with Melbourne Storm feeder club Sunshine Coast. The Falcons hooker finished the season sitting in second place on the leader board for the Petero Civoniceva Player of the Year award, two points behind 2018 recipient Nat Neale. The young Melbourne Storm rake made his NRL debut in Round 11, and was another player who was part of the Queensland Under 20 side, in 2018.
15. LINDSAY COLLINS – SYDNEY ROOSTERS
Hailing from Brisbane, the young Sydney Roosters forward has played 10 NRL games since making his debut back in 2017. Before signing with the Roosters, the 22-year-old played for Brisbane Broncos in the NYC competition. In 2015, Collins was selected for the Queensland Under 20s, and with the departure of Queensland Maroons forwad Dylan Napa, Collins will be looking to cement his position in the 17 for the Sydney Roosters in 2019. Collins is a talented young forward, with a powerful running game, and if he can establish himself as a regular NRL player, he may one day also feature for the Queensland Maroons.
NOTABLE MENTIONS: Corey Jensen, Louis Geraghty, George Fai, Tom Gilbert, Pat Mago, Sam Johnstone, Lachlan Timm and Logan Bayliss.
*This opinion piece does not reflect the official opinions of the Queensland Rugby League.