Three years after Tino Fa’asuamaleaui sat Payne Haas 'on his arse' in an under-18s clash, the Maroons hulk will go after him again in Origin II.
Three years after Tino Fa’asuamaleaui sat Payne Haas 'on his arse' in an under-18s clash, the Maroons hulk will go after him again in Origin II.

Tino to reignite schoolboy feud in State of Origin

It is the schoolboy interstate spat that has sparked State of Origin's latest forward feud.

Maroons monster Tino Fa'asuamaleaui will be gunning for Payne Haas on Wednesday night in Origin II - three years after he put his Blues rival "on his arse" in a seek-and-destroy mission on NSW's most promising front-rower.

Broncos sensation Haas will play a critical role in the return bout, pitchforked into the NSW starting side as the Blues fight to keep the series alive following Queensland's 18-14 boilover in Origin I at Adelaide Oval.

But NSW's 118kg bookend will run into his fiercest Queensland foe Fa'asuamaleaui, the 116kg hulk who returns to the very ANZ Stadium venue where he called out Haas and targeted him in an explosive under-18s duel in 2017.

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The 17-year-old giants went hammer and tongs in the front row. From a penalty restart, Fa'asuamaleaui verbally goaded Haas, challenging NSW's biggest forward to run directly at him.

On another play, Haas ran across field, prompting Fa'asuamaleaui to sledge his NSW opponent as he dared him to run straight into the teeth of the Maroons pack.

NSW won the war that night, prevailing 35-28 at Homebush, but the Maroons walked away believing Fa'asuamaleaui won the battle over Haas, who must now muscle-up on the senior Origin stage against his heavyweight rival.

"Tino went hunting for Haas that night at Homebush and he sat him on his arse," said Fa'asuamaleaui's manager Simon Mammino.

"Payne was the big dog at schoolboy level so Tino took him on - that's the competitor he is.

"Tino first came up against Payne 12 months earlier (in 2016) in a Queensland Schoolboys state carnival at Pizzey Park and Tino went after him.

"The following year, they faced each other in that Queensland-NSW under-18s game at Homebush and Tino was outstanding.

"He wouldn't back down against Haas and he ended up getting named Queensland's players' player.

"Payne was always bigger and better than his opponents at junior level but Tino was never afraid to have a crack.

"He loves a challenge, so he wanted to test himself by calling out Haas."

The pair squared off in the series opener last week but Haas played a limited role off the bench, receiving just 25 minutes, half as much as Fa'asuamaleaui's 50-minute debut in the Maroons' upset.

Payne Haas is set for more game time for NSW in Game 2. Picture: Phil Hillyard
Payne Haas is set for more game time for NSW in Game 2. Picture: Phil Hillyard

This time, Haas will hurtle into Queensland's forwards from the opening seconds, with Fa'asuamaleaui relishing a showdown with his NSW counterpart.

"I've played against Payne a few times," he said.

"He was a year older than me when I played for the Wide Bay rep team. I was 16, so I jumped up to the under-18s where Payne was playing for the South Coast.

"Payne was the big dog, so I always wanted to get out there and test myself against him."

Former Maroons lock Scott Sattler, who covered Fa'asuamaleaui's rise in the Intrust Super Cup for Channel 9, said the Gympie giant is tailor-made for the Origin arena.

"Tino's performance in that first Origin game was as good a debut as any forward that I have seen in a long time," Sattler said.

"If I was Payne Haas, I'd be on guard. If there's a history between them, Tino will be keen to come out and dominate Haas and it makes their clash in the middle mouth-watering.

"Tino is like a raging inferno. It's all kept inside. Tino is a well-mannered country kid from a beautiful family and then he gets on the field and the aggression comes out.

"His maturity over the past 12 months has been phenomenal. He has gone from a promising big forward in the Intrust Super Cup to becoming one of the key figures in Melbourne's premiership team.

"The question in this series was whether Queensland's pack would be big enough but Tino's mobility and physicality is the X-factor for the Maroons up front."

Originally published as Tino to reignite schoolboy feud in Origin