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'Queensland my first pick': Tino targets Maroons jersey

Other than finishing his Storm career with a premiership, there is nothing Titans-bound Storm forward Tino Fa'asuamaleaui wants more this year than a maiden Queensland Origin jersey.

Fa'asuamaleaui had a busy post-season at the end of 2019, going from a Storm finals campaign to the green and gold of the PM's XIII into a World Nines campaign with Samoa, back to green and gold with the Australian under-23s into a senior test debut with Toa Samoa.

He also wore Queensland Maroon in the under-20s Origin in the middle of the year, and his impressive recent form has caught the eye of Maroons coach Kevin Walters. 

"Queensland is my first pick, 100%," Fa'asuamaleaui told NRL.com.

"I just have to keep playing good footy. It would be a dream come true. I grew up in Queensland, played for Queensland [at junior level].

"That's my main goal for this year after trying to win a premiership. It's sort of one of the goals I'm keeping on the low, trying to get through each week healthy but hopefully my name gets tossed up."

Tino Fa'asuamaleaui playing in green and gold.
Tino Fa'asuamaleaui playing in green and gold. ©Gregg Porteous/NRL Photos

Fa'asuamaleaui was hugely supportive of recent comments from ARLC chair Peter V'Landys that Pacific Islander players who qualify for NSW or Queensland under the stringent Origin criteria should not have to choose between their state and their national team.

"It would be good for the boys to be able to represent their culture and family and also represent their state they grew up in and where they played their first footy," he said.

"It would be good for them to get the opportunity to do both, I'm all for it. It's awesome representing your family's culture and it's also representing your state so I'm all for it."

A likely Queensland pack on current form and availability would feature props Josh Papalii and Christian Welch, edge forwards Felise Kaufusi David Fifita, with Jai Arrow and Josh McGuire vying for lock and bench spots. Of last year's Maroons crop, Dylan Napa, Joe Ofahengaue and Jarrod Wallace may struggle to earn selection while Tim Glasby, Matt Gillett and Ethan Lowe are injured or retired.

Fa'asuamaleaui, Lindsay Collins, Pat Carrigan, Josh Kerr and Jaydn Su'A head the up-and-comers vying for what looks to be at least two vacant spots.

A finals series with the Storm could add plenty of weight to Fa'asuamaleaui's claims as he targets a premiership, especially given his huge increase in minutes and responsibility as the season has gone on.

"I think I am [improving], probably with a little more experience. I'm learning a lot of things," he said.

Tino time has the Storm back level

"Each week I'm learning what I need to improve on and just get out there and do my job that Craig [Bellamy] gives me.

"I think with those boys [like Brandon Smith and Nelson Asofa-Solomona] injured someone has to step up and take those minutes.

"Craig's got a bit more confidence in me and believes in me so I think that's what I'm getting a bit more minutes which is good for me to learn a bit more.

"I'd love to finish with a ring on a big high note with the boys, it would be a dream come true. Hopefully we can get there, I believe we've got the team to do it, we just have to keep working hard for each other."