It was on Queensland soil earlier this season when new Blues winger Brian To’o started to be seriously discussed as a NSW Origin hope.
To’o was targeted all night by the Broncos at Suncorp Stadium in round six, and despite coming up with three errors – including two in the space of one minute – he carted the ball up 24 times for more than 260 metres and 10 tackle busts.
Blues winger Brian To’o will line up against Xavier Coates in Origin I. Credit:Getty, Getty
Speaking about To’o’s memorable Broncos performance, Fittler told the Herald on Thursday: “They put him under pressure that night. He may have let one bounce [and Brisbane got the ball back], but he gets on with it.
“The other thing I’ve noticed is if Brian does make a mistake he doesn’t worry about it. You will always get mistakes, but it’s whether you dwell on it or move on. He never dwells on it.
“He’s also so hard to tackle every time. That’s such a big part of the game coming out of trouble. ‘Fergo’ [Ferguson] showed everyone how valuable that skill is, and how much courage you need to make those runs.
“But Brian is made of something different. He’s like a big bag of corn or a big bag of sand. He’s just so hard to tackle.”
The Panthers winger survived an aerial assault against Brisbane back in round six.Credit:NRL Photos
To’o, who spent part of Thursday’s session in the wet training outside Latrell Mitchell on his preferred left wing – but will start on the right outside Tom Trbojevic – remembers being exhausted at full-time in the middle of Suncorp Stadium.
“Their game plan was to kick it high to me all night and try to isolate me and jam me in the corner,” To’o said. “But challenges like that only make me push 10 times harder and it only boosts my confidence. I’m expecting it again next Wednesday.
“I actually don’t know how tall I am. My height has never been an issue.”
To’o is officially listed as 182 centimetres tall by the NRL, but is closer to 177. After 12 rounds he leads the NRL competition in post-contact metres with 1175, with the next best being the man he replaced in the Blues side, Sydney Roosters winger Daniel Tupou (805 metres).
To’o, 22, also leads the way with overall run metres (2946), well clear of Warriors skipper Roger Tuivasa-Sheck (2285) and Parramatta captain Clint Gutherson (2231).
The fact Penrith are unbeaten and one of the best attacking teams in the modern era helps To’o’s statistics, but his form was always going to make him hard to resist when it came to Origin selection.
To’o said the influence of his partner, Moesha Crichton-Ropati, meant he was able to keep his feet on the ground.
“My missus always tells me there are little things I can work on, she’s my extra eyes off the field,” To’o said.
“She’s a big fan of the game, she played in the Harmony Cup for Samoa, she’s my No.1 fan. She’s always looking after me. My missus also told me not to think about Origin, to only focus on the Panthers, and God willing if I was chosen for the Blues I was chosen for the Blues.”
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