It’s no wonder Gold Coast coach Justin Holbrook’s eyes light up at the mention of recruit Tino Fa’asuamaleaui’s impending arrival at the Titans.
The 20-year-old was a virtual unknown when the Titans announced they had agreed to sign him on a three-year deal from 2021 onwards in December last year.
Since then Fa’asuamaleaui’s stock has gone through the roof after becoming a first-grade regular during Melbourne’s 2020 NRL premiership campaign.
The 197cm backrower then played all three games in his debut State of Origin series for Queensland as the Maroons secured an upset 2-1 win over NSW.
Holbrook kept an eye on how Fa’asuamaleaui performed for the Maroons and couldn’t have been happier with the youngster’s performances.
“I thought he was the player of the series for me,” Holbrook said.
“I thought he was terrific, in particular the game two when it was a really tough night for Queensland and I thought he carried the ball as good as anyone could have that night.
“Terrific Origin series and terrific year for the Storm winning the comp.
“Really excited to have a quality player like Tino joining us and the fact that he’s really excited to come to the Titans and was so 12 months ago is even better.
“We’re getting him for all the right reasons.”
The prospect of Fa’asuamaleaui combining with fellow Titans’ recruit David Fifita is a fearsome one for opponents.
While Fifita was on deck at Monday’s first pre-season training session, Holbrook will have to wait until after Christmas before Fa’asuamaleaui joins his new teammates as he has a break following his big 2020.
“It’s a shame he’s having a break but he’s earned one and be great to get him when we can,” Holbrook said.
The Titans coach also confirmed fullback AJ Brimson had undergone surgery on the foot he injured on his Origin debut in game one of the interstate series.
Holbrook said the surgery had gone well and while Brimson had a “long road” to recovery the club remained optimistic he’d be fit for round one of next year’s NRL season.