IF YOU want to know why Lama Tasi has been named in the QAS Emerging Origin squad after only nine games of top grade football, you may want to ask Greg Bird.
In his first top grade NRL match, the new Sydney Roosters enforcer delivered a bone-crunching shoulder charge to the Gold Coast Titans lock that had left Bird seeing stars and Roosters fans screaming for more.
So despite an injury-interrupted first season where he missed as many games as he played, Tasi has made enough of an impression to secure a place at the Emerging Origin camp in Brisbane from January 20-22.
No one was more surprised at his selection than the softly spoken-footballer himself.
"I was shocked more than anything, I really didn't expect it," Tasi said of his reaction when told he was in the squad.
Tasi's selection may be as much about securing the 104kg prop as a future Queensland and Australian player as rewarding his debut season.
Having already played for the New Zealand under-20 team, Tasi, like many other NRL stars with family ties to New Zealand, found himself having to decide where his representative future lay.
Would he commit to a representative career for the Kiwis, where he lived until the age of four, or take his chances on a future with Queensland and Australia?
The former Goodna player said, in the end, the choice wasn't really a choice at all.
"In the last off-season, I had a talk to my family and close friends and everything just started to make sense," he said.
"I've played all my junior footy in Queensland.
"This is where I developed as a player.
"This is where I've been brought up my whole life."
After spending nearly his entire childhood in Queensland, Tasi said there was one reason above all that confirmed his representative future.
"Internationals are good but at the end of the day the pinnacle of rugby league is State of Origin," he said. "Everyone around the world no matter who you are ... everyone watches Origin."
If toughness is the key ingredient to a successful transition to Origin football, then Tasi may have already shown Maroons powerbrokers he has what it takes.
The 190cm (6ft 3in) forward's pain threshold was on display during the Roosters match against the Newcastle Knights in May when he returned to the field in the second half despite suffering a fractured ankle.
The decision proved the 21-year-old was willing to put his team ahead of himself, a key ingredient to Origin success.
"We were running low on troops so I got an injection and kept playing," he said
"I probably shouldn't have."
The injury kept Tasi on the sidelines for six weeks but he returned late in the season and rubber stamped his talent with a series of strong performances.
Tasi will join Roosters team-mate and former Ipswich player Martin Kennedy at the January camp which will be overseen by QAS head coach Wayne Bennett and Maroons mentor Mal Meninga.
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