Felise Kaufusi has today pledged to be disciplined on the field and during the Christmas break to ensure he plays more footy in 2024 and helps the Dolphins make the finals in their second season.
Speaking after today’s gruelling training session in the heat at Redcliffe, the Dolphins ‘enforcer’ says he needs to strike the right balance of aggression and control after missing eight games due to suspension last season.
See the training session photos at the end of this story
But don’t expect radical changes to the way he plays the game.
“The target zone just needs to drop a bit and a split second earlier and I should be right,” he says.
“It was probably one of the most inconsistent years I’ve had of footy. I felt like I didn’t play too much last year. My total suspended games was eight and I missed one through HIA.
“It sucks when you’re out suspended, you’re not injured, you’re able to train and there’s no excuse there. It’s really just honing it down. There’s rules in the game for a reason. That’s so no-one gets seriously injured. I’m just looking to stay on the field.”
Kaufusi joined the squad at training on December 8, and says this year’s preseason grind is already tougher than last year, when the focus was on getting to know each other and building combinations.
And in an ominous sign to his opponents, he’s feeling fit and ready to play his best footy to help his club and earn back a Maroons jersey.
“It’s probably the best nick I’ve come back in, to be honest. I think that just comes with experience. Earlier on, I indulged a bit too much … you still do. That’s what your holiday is for, but you have to hit the ground running and I think I’ve done that,” he says.
It’s something he will have front-of-mind as he takes a break with his family for Christmas.
“They say it’s the festive time of year but that’s a load of crap when you’re a bloody footy player because it’s trying to balance indulging in all the good foods around Christmas and being around family and having a beer or two … that balance of doing a little bit of work as well as having a good time,” he says.
“You get found out on the footy field (if you don’t). We’ll obviously have tests when we get back and see who has eaten too much or drank too much.”
Kaufusi is keen to see what his side can do with fellow hardman Tom Flegler in the squad.
“He’s a madman … I love that about him. That’s part of his game, his aggression and youth … being in that finals series, playing in a Grand Final and for Australia. I think that will bring a lot to our team,” he says.
The Dolphins will have a formidable pack which will no doubt strike fear in some of their opponents.
“It’s all about balance. You’ve obviously got Tommy Gilbert as well, who’s a madman in himself and he’ll throw all of his 98kg around. Across the park, we’ll be pretty aggressive,” Kaufusi says.
With a year of firsts behind them, the Dolphins will need to shift their focus and channel a different kind of energy in season two.
“I think to build on last year. I’d love to push for a finals berth and create another first for this club. We’ll be doing our best to do that,” Kaufusi says.
Training photo gallery (click through)
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