Paul Gallen has urged Cronulla teammate Andrew Fifita to leave new NSW coach Brad Fittler in no doubt that his allegiance lies with the Blues ahead of Tonga this year.
But Fifita says he’s still unsure and intends to wait until the eve of the representative season in June.
Fifita has a hard decision to make, with the second Origin match to clash with Tonga’s mid-year Test against Samoa in Campbelltown.
A key figure in the NSW pack for the last three years, he surprised many when he defected from the Kangaroos after being selected for last year’s World Cup, opting to play for Tonga instead.
With fellow big bopper Jason Taumalolo, who had opted out of Kiwis selection, he then played a leading role in Tonga’s popular run to the World Cup semi-finals.
On Sunday, Fifita indicated he would again leave his decision till late as he weighed it up over the opening rounds of the season.
“My knowledge says to sit back and wait and see where we’re at in three months time,” said Fifita.
“I’ve got up until the week in front of Origin.
“I’ll sit down with my coach and my family and see what’s best and see where my head is at.”
However, former NSW skipper Gallen believed Fifita should be prioritising NSW ahead of the Pacific Test and should let Fittler know he was committed to the cause.
“If he asks my opinion or wants some advice on it I would be telling Freddie (Fittler) straight out that your allegiance is to NSW and you want to be playing State of Origin,” Gallen said.
“With his ability and the way he’s played Cronulla over the past couple of years I’ve got no doubt he can make that Origin side if he wants to be there.”
A barnstorming man of the match in the Blues’ Origin series opener last year, Fifita’s form dropped off when targeted in the next two games as NSW lost again, leaving a question mark over his Origin future.
Fifita said he didn’t think he should contact Fittler about his availability and felt selectors would call him if they needed too.
Choosing Origin over Tonga would be a big decision for Fifita, who has spoken about the pride he and his family felt when representing the Pacific nation last year.
“You see juniors coming through and they want to be like us. It was time to give back and time to move forward. It was time to put the Pacific Islands on the map,” he said.
“I told (Australian coach) Mal (Meninga) I just had to do it while I was in my prime. I got to win a World Cup with Australia in 2013. If I went with Australia again, it would have felt the same.
“Going into the same old comp and it was going to be an easy win for Australia.
“For me it was much more of a challenge, putting my body on the line and representing my dad.”