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Olakau'atu hopes NSW fans forgive him for Maroons post

3 minute read

Haumole Olakau'atu grew up supporting Queensland in State of Origin, but the NSW debutant insists he now bleeds blue.

Haumole Olakau'atu has a confession that he hopes NSW fans can forgive him for.

The Blues forward grew up a Queensland fan.

"If I'm going to be honest, I was growing up going for the Maroons," Olakau'atu admitted on his first full day in Blues camp.

"I didn't know footy at the time when I was young. I did play footy, but I didn't know that it was such a big thing.

"My old man was a Maroons supporter as well, so I knew nothing but Maroons every time Origin came up."

It's why the Guilford junior grew up loving the likes of Greg Inglis and Johnathan Thurston, as NSW won only one series between his seventh and 19th birthdays.

And also the reason behind Olakau'atu's social media post after Game I in 2022, when he wrote "Been a Maroons since day dot" on Instagram.

"I don't know what I was thinking," Olakau'atu said on Tuesday.

"I was stupid. I was childish. I hope all the NSW fans can forgive me."

Now, though, the powerful Manly back-rower is adamant he is a true Blue.

"I started to realise over the years when I was playing, I live here in NSW," Olakau'atu said.

"So I deserve to be a Blues supporter.

"Since playing in first grade I've realised I'm Blues through and through."

Olakau'atu's emotion about being picked for his NSW debut is clear.

He was left speechless when called by coach Michael Maguire on Sunday, and his father Ola was in tears beside him.

First spotted by Manly while waiting in the car watching his close friend Manase Fainu train for under-20s, he has become one of the most powerful second-rowers in the NRL.

The 26-year-old has admitted speculation over Origin selection had impacted his football in recent years, including last year when he narrowly missed out to Keaon Koloamatangi.

"At first I was disappointed, I'm not gonna lie," Olakau'atu said.

"I did feel a bit of fire with it."

This year, though, it has been different.

The second-rower has worked closely with Manly's mental skills coach Andrew May, with breathing exercises helping keep him on track.

"It's just with all breathing work and trying to narrow my focus closer to game days," Olakau'atu said.

"It's all these mindful things he's been telling us to do.

"It's helped me a lot in the last year. It really does work when you actually do it."

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