Dolphins’ newcomer Tesi Niu joined the full squad at training this morning, with the club’s first signing Felise Kaufusi declaring the sky’s the limit for the talented youngster if he makes the most of the opportunity.
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It was Niu’s first session with his new club after it was announced last Thursday that he had been released by the Broncos.
The 21-year-old Tongan international player will strengthen the Dolphins’ backline having already played 32 NRL matches and representing Tonga during the recent Rugby League World Cup in England.
He’s a robust centre or fullback, renowned for his slick footwork.
The Dolphins’ first signing Felise Kaufusi, who has been rewarded for his leap of faith with the number one on his training kit bag, said Niu was an exciting signing for the club at this morning’s press conference.
“It’s great. It was awesome when I heard he was signing with us because I had some time with him overseas with the Tonga camp. Just to see another familiar face was awesome,” he said.
“I think the sky’s the limit for him if he takes the most of his opportunities, he’ll be playing a lot of first-grade this year.”
Place in Dolphins’ history
So, what does the number one on Kaufusi’s bag mean to him?
“It’s definitely really special. The boys have given me a bit of stick about it. I just told them it’s the number one signing, not number one marquee … so the price tag doesn’t come with it,” he said laughing.
The move to Redcliffe was made with his family front of mind.
“A lot of things came into consideration but first and foremost was my family. We’re from Bundaberg … that’s just up the road from here,” he explained.
“Me and my little family can duck up on the weekends when I get time off. It makes things easier.”
Kaufusi would not be drawn on whether dramas at the Broncos took some pressure off the Dolphins but said there would always be a healthy rivalry.
When asked if Bennett was a ‘good coach or a good bloke’, Kaufusi said: “He’s all of it. He knows what he’s doing. There’s a reason why he’s so successful and I’m getting to know that a lot more just over this week. I’ve got full confidence in him and the team that we have”.
Setting the bar high
Kaufusi said he would be leading from the front and doing his bit to influence the players around him.
“It’s the first time (today) in the new year that we’ve all been on deck. It feels good. In a sense, it feels like the first day back at school – I’ve got my bucket hat on today. We’re just getting familiar with each other and I’m sure as training goes on, we’ll build those combinations and get more and more familiar with each other and we’ll get to where we want to be,” he said.
So, what expectations do the coaching staff have of him this preseason?
“Just to try and lead … try and set those standards as high as we can. Coming from the background that I’m from, it’s set pretty high,” he said.
“As long as I can carry that to a starting team and hopefully influence the boys around me, especially the younger crew … looking up to us, if they see us doing the wrong thing, it’s not a good look. I’ll definitely be there making sure no one’s taking any shortcuts.”
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Photos by Dominika Lis
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