Lemuelu: ‘I’ll be putting my hand up’

Published 9:00am 24 January 2024

Lemuelu: ‘I’ll be putting my hand up’
Words by Kylie Knight

Dolphins NRL back rower Connelly Lemuelu is confident of playing in the Pre-season Challenge after overcoming a knee injury suffered while representing Samoa in October.

He’s keen to lock in a spot for the team which will take on his old club, the North Queensland Cowboys, in round one.

The 25-year-old injured his MCL and PCL but has returned to training determined to make his claim for a spot in the starting line-up.

“The knee is feeling pretty good … back into full training these last two weeks, slightly modified, but it’s good to get back in the mix and among the boys,” Lemuelu says.

“I’ll be putting my hand up for those trial spots to just try to lock down a spot for that round one team.”

The former Cowboy, who made his NRL debut in 2020, says he’s relished his first year at the Dolphins learning from leadership players and the Super Coach who gave him a spray when needed to lift his performance.

“It’s pretty cool actually getting that sort of treatment from Wayne. He doesn’t treat anyone any differently, sees everyone the same. The year that I had last year … he was a massive part of it. He wants to help you and help you get better. It definitely comes from a good place in his heart,” Lemuelu explains.

“I’ve got a really good relationship with Kenny (Bromwich). He’s one of those blokes I looked up to when I was younger and having the opportunity to come down to the Dolphins and getting to learn off the likes of him – a premiership winner, an established international player – it’s been awesome.

“I’ve spent the majority of pretty much all last year in that back row spot and I definitely took a lot of tips from him.”

Lemuelu: ‘I’ll be putting my hand up’
Coach Wayne Bennett who said as Connelly Lemuelu "has been great to work with".

Welcome shift

Lemuelu, who was signed as a second rower, has enjoyed the move to the back row.

“It’s a lot more simplified role than that centre spot, I think. I’ve just got to run the correct lines and make my tackles, I guess. I feel I did that for the most part last year and I’m looking forward to doing the same this year,” he says.

A big turnout at last weekend’s Dolphins fan day has given players a boost during what has been a gruelling preseason.

“It’s definitely really exciting going out, seeing all the fans when they come out to mix and mingle amongst the boys. We had a pretty good turnout at Norths last week,” he says.

“It was good to see all those people from around Brisbane and in particular north Brisbane come out and support the Dolphins.

“It definitely gives the boys a lift especially after all these hard training sessions we’ve been doing in the heat. It was awesome.”

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