Dolphins NRL fans can expect their team to bring their best to Redcliffe’s Kayo Stadium on Sunday when they play competition leaders Penrith Panthers for the first time, according to assistant coach Kristian Woolf.
Felise Kaufusi is back after a week off with concussion and State of Origin star Hamiso Tabuai-Fidow has been named in the team and is expected to back-up for his club at their final home game at Kayo Stadium this season.
The Dolphins are coming off a hard-fought 23-21 Golden Point win over the Titans last week and are now 12th on the ladder.
Two-time premiers Penrith Panthers are top of the table and have had a week off thanks to a bye in Round 19. It followed a 34-16 win over Melbourne Storm in Round 18.
Kaufusi slots back into the Dolphins’ second row alongside Connelly Lemuelu, with Kenny Bromwich to start at prop with his brother Jesse.
‘The Hammer’, Tabuai-Fidow, has been named in the centres, with Kodi Nikorima to play fullback. If the Origin star is not fit to play, Valynce Te Whare will be ready to step in and has been named on the extended interchange list.
Yesterday, the club said Anthony Milford would again play in an impact role from the bench, but he trained in the No. 6 position this morning.
“I thought he turned the game a bit when he came on (last week), just his speed … he ran the ball well. He added a fair bit to us attack-wise and what probably got missed is that he defended terrifically well. It’s great having him come in and making that influence on the game.
“We did train him there today. It doesn’t mean that Isaiya (Katoa) is not going to play there as well. We thought they worked really well in tandem on the weekend. We’re really happy with the way that Isaiya’s coming along, progressing as a player as well.
|“We’ve got a couple of options there. It’s probably the most options we’ve had in the team since going back to around rounds five and six. We’re going to have to make a couple of selection choices this week and it’s a great position to be in this time of year.”|
One player who won’t take the field is hooker Jeremy Marshall-King. He’s still struggling with a shoulder injury but there’s hope he will return to the field this season.
“It’s a bit of a complicated one, it’s a bit of AC, it’s a bit of bruising, it’s a bit of fluid in there. The advice we’re getting is that it just needs time,” Woolf says.
“I don’t think he’s going to miss the whole season, no. We’ve got to figure out what’s going on and we’ve got to make sure we give him time to recover properly.”
Harrison Graham has been named as No. 9 this week.
The Golden Point win over the Titans is one the squad worked hard to achieve, but they know this Sunday’s game will push them to another level.
“It’s another step up this week. We’re playing the team that’s been the best in the competition for the last few years,” Woolf says.
|“They play a certain style of footy that’s really relentless. We know that we’re going to be really challenged and we’re right up for the challenge.”|
He says Penrith have named Nathan Cleary for a reason and he must be pretty close to being fit to play.
“Penrith have a particular way they play. They probably grind you down more than any other team in the comp and they’re very good at it and very ruthless in the way they go about it.
“That’s our first challenge … how we handle that sort of game. We can worry about what kind of plays they’re going to put on once we get through that.”
There are no tickets left for the game which will be the last chance for Dolphins fans to see their team play at Redcliffe this season.
So, what can a packed Kayo Stadium expect from their team?
“Our players love playing here. It’s a great little stadium, it’s a great pitch. You feel like the fans are right on top of you. This is our home base, this is where we’re based and our real home supporters,” Woolf says.
“We love being here and love playing here. I think what they can expect is our best performance. We know that we’re playing the best team in the comp, that brings the best out of you as well. That’s what I think everyone can expect.”
Kick-off is at 4.05pm on Sunday. The game will also be televised on Channel 9, Kayo and Foxtel.
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