It is a shock to some but Willie Tonga says he never gave up hope he could find himself back in a Queensland State of Origin squad.
Veteran outside back Willie Tonga says he never gave up on returning to State of Origin football.
The 30-year-old was a shock recall to Queensland’s injury-hit squad for next Wednesday’s must-win clash against NSW in Sydney.
With several players entering camp under an injury cloud and options such as Anthony Milford and Will Chambers yet to play an Origin game, coach Mal Meninga opted for someone he knows from past campaigns in Tonga.
It caps a remarkable turnaround for Tonga, who has endured a horror two years since playing in his eighth and last Origin in 2011.
Since then he has spent most of the past two years on the sidelines including a career-threatening back injury in 2013.
Through it all though, Tonga says he never gave up hope of one day returning to a Queensland squad.
“I’ll always back myself, no matter what,” he said.
“I always said that if I was fit and I was healthy then I could get back and I’ve kind of given myself the best opportunity to do that.
“If it works my way then I’m ready for it.”