Bracing for Battle of Brisbane

Published 1:30pm 20 March 2023

Bracing for Battle of Brisbane
Words by Kylie Knight

Dolphins' Head Coach Wayne Bennett described Friday night’s 36-20 win over Newcastle Knights as ‘the good, the bad and the ugly’ and today’s training session appeared to focus ‘the ugly’ – defence.

It comes as the Dolphins fight to have key enforcer Felise Kaufusi in their squad for Friday night’s Battle of Brisbane against the Broncos at Suncorp Stadium.

Kaufusi was charged with grade two dangerous contact for a tackle on Newcastle’s Jackson Hastings that resulted in the Tonga international being sinbinned.

The Dolphins are seeking to have the grading lowered. A downgrade would leave Kaufusi with a fine, while if the challenge is unsuccessful, his suspension will rise from three to four weeks as it is his third offence. An outcome is expected tomorrow night.

During training today, coaching staff focused drills on improving speed and urgency in defence to shut down their opponent’s attacking play.

There was also attention on finessing combinations, with sweeping attack on full display.

Second rower Kenny Bromwich says while he hopes Kaufusi will be successful in having his charge downgraded, the team is concentrating on what they can control.

|“We were focusing on a bit of defensive stuff, just holding the ball and stuff like that. If we can do some of those things better, we can make it easier for ourselves,” Bromwich says.|

Cross-city rivalry is new for the former Melbourne Storm player but he knows it will be something special.

“I guess I’m just soaking in the hype. Two teams in one city, I’ve never been part of something like that. It’s something I’m looking forward to. You can feel the buzz around the place, all over town. It’s going to be a big game and something we’re excited for,” Bromwich says.

“I’m expecting a really tough game. They’ve been playing some quality footy for the opening rounds and we’re expecting nothing less that a tough game. We’ll go about our business, prepare as well as we can and play a good game on Friday night.”

Bracing for Battle of Brisbane

Depth may be tested

If Kaufusi is sidelined, Bromwich is confident there are players ready to step up including Connolly Lemuelu and Jeremiah Simbiken.

And he agrees if Kaufusi is out, there will be less traffic along his edge as opponents try to avoid his bone-rattling defence.

“He’s been playing really well lately with the aggression he’s playing with. When he’s playing like that, he’s usually playing really well. If I was an opposing side to him, I’d have an eye out for him as well,” Bromwich said.

He’s also full of praise for fan favourite Hamiso Tabuai-Fidow, The Hammer, who scored his fourth try in three games for his new club on Friday night.

“He’s really finding his own at fullback there, finding a voice in defence and a bit of a presence there for us too – telling us where to go,” Bromwich says.

“He pops up at the randomest times, you know and capitalise on things.”

Bracing for Battle of Brisbane
Photo: Dolphins' Media. Hamiso Tabuai Fidow

Battle of the fullbacks

So, who wins in a race, The Hammer or Reece Walsh?

“I’m going to say The Hammer. The Hammer’s the quickest in the comp. Every time you see him, it looks like he’s just jogging but when you see him put his foot down …”

When asked about the Dolphins’ so-called underdog status this round, Bromwich brushes it off.

“I just focus on what we have. We’ve sort of been against the odds since we’ve come in the comp. People have been saying a lot of things about us, but I think we just focus on ourselves and what happens around here, sticking to our processes, playing as good as we think we can play," Bromwich says.

“I think we’ve been doing that, probably could get a bit better in some areas, but I think if we just focus on ourselves, train really well, play good footy and do a good job.”

Friday night will be the Dolphins’ second home game at Suncorp Stadium, relegating the Brisbane Broncos to the ‘away’ sheds.

The game is expected to be a sell-out, with limited seats still available. Kick off is at 7.05pm.

Bracing for Battle of Brisbane
Photo: Dolphins' Media. Kenny Bromwich

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