He moves so gracefully, and looks assured under the high ball. Yet his best moment was ruining Leniu’s certain four-pointer. It was classic stuff. What they call Queensland spirit.

Leniu had worked up a full head of steam when he tried to crash over the line, but Tabuai-Fidow was having none of it.

Hamiso Tabuai-Fidow finished with a hat-trick of tries.

Hamiso Tabuai-Fidow finished with a hat-trick of tries.

He got down low and somehow threw his right knee beneath the ball. Given the angle of his body, he was entitled to be knocked backwards.

Tabuai-Fidow agreed and told this masthead after the game: “If you score tries, it’s more important I save them. I keep that in the back of my head, and it’s a good mindset to have.

“Scoring tries and doing the pretty stuff is cool, but saving tries for your teammates, there is no better feeling.

“Spencer didn’t get the ball down. He got up cheering, but the ball was under my hand the whole time.”

At just 22, Tabuai-Fidow is worshipped north of the border. They loved him in Townsville and they love him in Redcliffe. Even the most rusted-on NSW supporters would have been hard-pushed not to applaud some of his work in the middle of Accor Stadium.

Billy Slater left the coach’s box after Tabuai-Fidow scored his first try and was seen deep in conversation with his new fullback.

Was he asking for an autograph, Hammer?

“No he didn’t. He came down and said, ‘stick to my ‘D’ [defensive] principles, and go out and play footy’,” Tabuai-Fidow said.


Slater remains one of the greatest fullbacks in the modern era – time will tell where Tabuai-Fidow finishes up in another decade.

Some Queenslanders would consider Tabuai-Fidow a safer option for game two than Walsh.

There were questions over Slater’s selection of Cobbo on the bench. The Maroons had lost four backs in the past six Origin games, and Slater wanted an insurance policy. The coach looked a genius when Walsh departed early.

Tabuai-Fidow knows how dangerous fellow Indigenous man Latrell Mitchell would be if rushed into the NSW side at centre for game two in Melbourne.

“We all know what he can do in the game, and what he’s done on this arena, but we can’t worry about them, we can only worry about us and what we can control,” he said.

Watch State of Origin exclusively Live and Free on Channel 9 & 9Now

Sports news, results and expert commentary. Sign up for our Sport newsletter.