Papalii gearing up for an Origin KO with a difference
Josh Papalii will put the punch into Queensland's pack in Origin I, with the Maroons hitman revealing his shock plans to emulate Sonny Bill Williams and Paul Gallen by taking up boxing.
Gallen and Papalii famously clashed when the Raiders hulk rattled the Sharks skipper with a stinging tackle during the 2012 NRL finals before the pair squared off five times in the Origin arena.
Queensland coach Kevin Walters is banking on Papalii's front-row muscle to put the Blues on the canvas in Game One, but the Maroons enforcer also has longer-term ambitions to succeed as a pugilist.
Papalii will not quit the NRL. Instead, he has spoken to his club coach, Canberra's Ricky Stuart, about fighting on a part-time basis, juggling sporting pursuits in the vein of Sonny Bill and Gallen.
"Boxing is something I am passionate about," Papalii said yesterday.
"It's something I want to do before I am all dusted up.
"I would love to do it. Ricky (Stuart) knows my passions and I've been with 'Sticky' for so many years now.
"He understands what I want to do in the near future and he will be all right with it."
The fight game is in Papalii's blood. His cousin Alex Leapai is the Logan brawler who celebrated a $1 million payday with his famous heavyweight title fight in 2014 against Wladimir Klitschko, who floored him in five rounds.
Papalii would be the perfect opponent for Gallen. At 183cm and 110kg, the Maroons prop is 3cm taller and 6kg heavier than the former NSW skipper, although Papalii yesterday chuckled at the notion of fighting Gallen.
"Look, Gal is a bit out of my class. He is a decent boxer," Papalii said.
"I've got a lot of cousins who box and my little brother (John) got forced into that little ring when we were younger.
"We stuck to it and our old man would take us to parks and to boxing rings. It is something I will be happy to do in the near future.
"When that time comes you guys will know."
For now, Papalii is determined to lead Queensland's assault on the Blues. The Raiders hulk plays his 13th Origin game in the series opener and believes he and front-row cohort Jai Arrow have the hunger to deliver a one-two knockout punch.
"We've been chosen for a reason and hopefully we can go out and do the job," he said.
"It gives me a bit of confidence knowing the young fella (Arrow) will turn up and keep going."
Maroons back-rower Felise Kaufusi backed Papalii to terrorise the Blues.
"He's a bit of a wrecking ball," he said. "'Papa' is hard to handle and I'll be watching on when he comes off the back fence and bends some boys back."