Dolphins face first test of depth

Published 3:00pm 27 March 2023

Dolphins face first test of depth
Words by Kylie Knight

There will be plenty of changes to the Dolphins’ squad due to injury and suspension, but centre Connelly Lemuelu says he and his teammates have full confidence in the ‘next men up’ ahead of their away game against the Dragons this weekend.

Scans confirmed Sean O’Sullivan suffered a full tendon rupture of his pectoral muscle against the Dolphins’ 18-12 loss to Broncos on Friday night and is unlikely to be back before the end of June.

Tesi Niu also faces time on the sideline after playing through damage to his medial collateral ligament in his knee. He will be out for at least four weeks.

Also injured in Friday night’s Battle of Brisbane was Kodi Nikorima whose face was opened up in a sickening head-knock with teammate Tom Gilbert. He has been cleared of facial fractures but has stitches above and below his eye and is likely to miss this weekend.

And enforcer Felise Kaufusi has three weeks of his four-week suspension still to serve.

In good news for the club, winger Edrick Lee played 80 minutes in the Hostplus Cup on the weekend and was put through his paces at this morning’s session. He looks certain to be available for NRL duties this weekend.

Also back this week, is Jeremy Marshall-King from a two-week suspension and Isaiya Katoa from injury (elbow).

Spirits were high at training as the squad prepared for away games in the next two rounds starting with the Dragons in Wollongong on Saturday (4.30pm kick-off). They then face the Cowboys in Townsville on April 7 (8pm kick-off).

Lemuelu is expecting the Dragons to come out firing after they suffered a 40-8 loss to the Sharks yesterday.

“It’s always hard going down and playing a team who’s suffered a big loss the weekend before. I’m definitely expecting them to fire up. It’s always hard to go down to Wollongong and get a win as well. If everyone does their job, hopefully we’ll get the chocolates,” he said.

The 24-year-old will have the task of marking Ben Hunt and Ben Murdoch-Masila.

“It’s a big challenge but I’m looking forward to it,” Lemuelu said.

Dolphins face first test of depth

Flying start

He has started the season well and said he decided to make the move from the Cowboys to the Dolphins in a bid to get a consistent start in the NRL and learn from the likes of Kaufusi and (Kenny) Bromwich.

It’s paid off – he’s played for the NRL team since round one and it keen to cement his spot.

Lemuelu’s name is already etched in Dolphins’ history, scoring a try in the club’s first NRL game against the Roosters at Suncorp Stadium.

|“Scoring that first try and being part of the Dolphins’ first inaugural match was definitely one of the highlights of my career so far. It was my son’s first game and my parents came over from New Zealand and it was their first time watching me live playing NRL as well. (It was) definitely a moment I’ll cherish forever,” he recalls.|

The new dad and his family have embraced the Redcliffe peninsula lifestyle and their new club.

“We’ve got him a jersey with my last name on the back. It fits him now, he’s quite a big two-month-old. It looks good on him,” Lemuelu says.

“Redcliffe’s a beautiful area. I’m right next to the water here … a lot of the boys are looking at getting property around here as well. It’s definitely an attractive thing for players … coming in and living in this area … it’s a footy-mad town as well, so it’s good coming here and getting that community as well.”

So, will the Dolphins pass the first real test of their squad’s depth?

“Whoever gets the call-up this week, everyone in the team has confidence in whoever is going to come up to do their job,” Lemuelu says.

“I think that’s what we’ve built our identity on this year so far this season – all those effort areas – and I feel like everyone’s seeing the effort we put in for each other. We have full faith and confidence in the next man up.

“I love what I’m seeing from Milf (Anthony Milford). He got the late call-up last week and did a really good job for us. Obviously, Seany (Sean O-Sullivan) is out for long time but we’re confident in Milf’s ability and know he will do the job for us.”

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