Inspired by his partner's cancer battle, Joe Ofahengaue has backed Queensland to prove the doubter's wrong in next week's State of Origin decider in Sydney.
Drawing inspiration from his partner's cancer battle, prop Joe Ofahengaue has backed Queensland to "prove everyone wrong" in next week's State of Origin series decider in Sydney.
Ofahengaue claimed the Maroons had been dismissed by critics ahead of July 10's clash after being thrashed 38-6 in game two in Perth and losing their X-factor, fullback Kalyn Ponga, to a calf injury.
Queensland have been quick to use the underdog tag in the past.
But Ofahengaue pointed toward a very different source of motivation as the Maroons plotted to seal their 12th series win in 14 years - his beloved partner Sofi Leota.
Brisbane forward Ofahengaue's life was turned upside down when 24-year-old Leota was diagnosed with breast cancer last year.
Fortunately Leota revealed she was in remission in January after battling the condition for almost nine months and undergoing a mastectomy.
While an Origin match may pale in comparison to what Leota faced, Ofahengaue said it had reinforced the power of positive thinking.
And he backed Queensland to reverse their fortunes in game three - as long as they believed.
"The mind is such a strong thing. If you can win it in your head then you can win in real life - not just in footy but everything, for example my missus," Ofahengaue said.
"She showed that belief. That's the main thing, you've got to believe.
"Now we have a good opportunity to go out there and prove everyone wrong.
"And all the stress will be on NSW not us because everyone is running our team down after we lost Ponga."
His partner's positive thinking has quickly rubbed off on Ofahengaue after he overcome a horror knee gash suffered in the series opener to earn an Origin III recall.
"She has been awesome. Sometimes I thought I wouldn't be ready, but she said 'Trust me you will be ready'," he said.
"We just feed off each other. She is my best friend. When one is down, the other picks you up."
Ofahengaue impressed on Origin debut in Queensland's 18-14 series opening win but admitted he felt "guilty" missing game two with injury as he watched the Maroons pack get steamrolled.
However, it was no surprise that Ofahengaue felt confident about the Maroons turning it around in game three.
"All that (critics') talk doesn't matter to us. We need to turn up for each other, that's what Origin and Queensland is all about," he said.
Queensland coach Kevin Walters named a game three squad in alphabetical order, refusing to name Ponga's fullback replacement.
However the Maroons appeared to reveal their hand when incumbent pivot Cameron Munster featured at No.1 at training on Tuesday.
Michael Morgan is expected to slot into the halves with utility Moses Mbye in the centres and debutant Corey Norman on the bench.