It was a relaxed Wayne Bennett this morning as the Dolphins’ NRL squad returned to the training field ahead of their clash against the Dragons this Thursday night, which will be a milestone game for Jamayne Isaako.
There were two notable absences at training with Tom Gilbert and Hamiso Tabuai-Fidow called up for Queensland’s State-of-Origin side. The Hammer will play in the centre while Gilbert will play in the second row.
Felise Kaufusi, who faces three weeks on the sideline as the result of a grade-two careless high tackle charge in the Dolphin’s 24-16 loss to Melbourne Storm on Saturday, trained with the squad’s second group.
One of his teammates ribbed him as he walked over to the group, calling out ‘see you in three weeks’.
The squad faces a tight turnaround with their clash against the Dragons at Redcliffe’s Kayo Stadium on Thursday night (7.50pm kick-off).
The game will be Jamayne Isaako’s 100th in the NRL during a season which has rekindled his love for league and resulted in scintillating form on the wing.
“It’s special. To play one game in this competition is special, to play 100 is pretty cool. I’m looking forward to a big game on Thursday night against St George,” Isaako says.
He still clearly recalls his debut for the Brisbane Broncos against Newcastle in 2017 and plans to make number 100 memorable.
Move pays off
Signing with the Dolphins and reuniting with Head Coach Wayne Bennett has been beneficial for the club and a player yearning for an opportunity to play his best.
“It’s been great, obviously, being back under Wayne … finding some form again. The last couple of years haven’t been too great for myself. My start to 2023 has been pretty great. Hopefully I can continue that form for the rest of the year,” Isaako says.
“I’m feeling pretty happy. It’s not as stressful playing on the wing as it is playing at fullback. All you have to do is run hard and make your catches on the wing. I think I’m doing that week-in, week-out. Hopefully if I can continue doing that for the rest of the season, I can keep the coach happy.”
And his game is continuing to improve.
“Each week, there’s things I know in my game that I need to work on. I’m getting that feedback from the coaches,” he says.
Fullback Hamiso Tabuai-Fidow may be out of the picture due to Origin duties, but Isaako is not looking to pull on the No.1 jersey.
Kodi Nikorima trained as fullback this morning and here are a few options for Bennett to ponder. Isaako says he’s not one of them.
“He sort of asked but I said I’m happy on the wing,” he says.
The sold-out home game at Kayo Stadium on Thursday night will be one to remember with the crowd certain to celebrate a player who has scored 10 tries and kicked 40 goals in his 11 appearances so far this season.
“The atmosphere when you do play here at Kayo is pretty compacted. We experienced that in round two when we played against Canberra here and got the win over them. Hopefully we can get that done again this week,” Isaako says.
See the photos from training (click through)
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