Competition - State Of Origin
Round - Game One
Teams – New South Wales v Queensland
Date – 1st of June 2016
Venue – ANZ Stadium, Sydney
Photographer – Mark Nolan
Description –

Maroons Toughest Team I've Faced: Fifita

New South Wales prop Andrew Fifita has declared Queensland are better than any other national team he's played before.

With six Tests for Australia and six Origins to his name, Fifita believes his Maroon counterparts have challenged him far more than any other team in his representative career so far.

Granted Fifita hasn't played for Australia since the 2013 Rugby League World Cup and missed the Kiwis' recent run of dominance, the Sharks prop still rated the sunshine state above any other opponent. 

"Queensland are a massive challenge and I've played the world's best. New Zealand's tough but honestly Queensland I don't know where to start with how good they are," Fifita told NRL.com.

"It comes down to their halves and their core group of players there, it's just amazing. A lot of it comes down to their spine. 

"Some of them have been playing together since juniors so we need to really target them because I think that's the only way we can get them."

A core group of the Queensland team has been playing with one another through the grades which has helped them immeasurably in rugby league's toughest arena. 

"Cameron Smith, Cooper Cronk and Billy Slater for example would've come through the junior reps and through Melbourne together. The closest thing I ever had to that was Jenko (Michael Jennings) playing in the age above me," Fifita said. 

"I don't think anybody [in the New South Wales team] has played together in junior reps or anything like they have. They have a really good bond there the Queenslanders and it's quite spectacular when you think about it."

Queensland's dominance in winning 10 of the past 11 Origin series has led to Maroons players dominating Tim Sheens' and Mal Meninga's Kangaroos teams in recent years.

Meninga's first foray into coaching Australia in May's Trans-Tasman Test saw a whopping 12 Queenslanders picked.

It's something Fifita is hoping to change for the Four Nations at year's end, aiming to add to the four New South Welshmen (Paul Gallen, James Tamou, Blake Ferguson and Josh Dugan) who were picked by Meninga to face New Zealand in Newcastle earlier this year. 

"The desire's there but it's in the back of my head. I just want to play well for my team and if I do that then benefits happen. That's the main thing," Fifita said.

"Kangaroos could be on at the end of the year and I'll be happy to be back in the jersey. It's still a goal to get back into that team. 

"In the past I think I just thought it was going to happen for me over and over. But it's a tough team to stay in. There's always people banging down the doors and coming through.

"But I want that jersey back."

This article first appeared on NRL.com

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