Grand final pain can't dull Joe's gains

AFTER a year that a young player could only dream of, Joe Ofahengaue is off for a well earned rest.

Ofahengaue flew to the US following a season in which he played in the NRL grand final with the Brisbane Broncos and made his test debut for Tonga last weekend.

But it was no lads Vegas party he was heading towards to run wild following a disciplined season.

That's not him.

Ofahengaue was flying to the US for his older brother Albert's wedding.

If it weren't for that he'd probably still be doing 200m and 300m repetitions in the park near his Collingwood Park family home.

"I'm not really a holiday man," he said.

"My brother just wanted me to come over.

"It's good to get away from the country for a while."

It is not surprising he feels that way, given the media coverage that followed what many are calling the greatest grand final of all time.

But Ofahengaue claims he was not overly affected by it all, even the devastation of losing in extra time.

"To be honest, it didn't really hit me as hard as some others," he said of the golden point, overtime loss to the North Queensland Cowboys.

"I was more upset for the older players, like Justin Hodges, Corey Parker and Sam Thaiday.

"That might be the last chance they get."

It might be the last chance Ofahengaue gets as well, though it is understandable he foresees plenty of opportunities in future.

After such a dream debut season it must seem as though anything is possible.

"Coming into the year I just wanted to play NRL," said Ofahengaue, who turned 20 a week before the grand final.

"I didn't know how many games I would get.

"I started off the season slower than I thought I would so I was happy with the outcomes."

Ofahengaue is contracted with the Broncos for another two seasons and sees no reason he won't continue his impressive progress.

"I try to take as much as I can from the older players," he said.

"Next season we need to take off from where we left off.

"I'll make sure we're real focussed at training and try and cement my spot on the bench."

Ofahengaue was one of two Broncos players in the grand final, alongside five-eighth Anthony Milford, to have come through the Ipswich rugby league nursery of St Peter Claver College.