The Dolphins have made their first major NRL signing, securing Queensland State of Origin forward Felise Kaufusi on a three-year deal.
On the same week that Kaufusi’s Maroons’ teammates Tino Fa’asuamaleaui and Christian Welch opted to re-sign with their clubs, the 29-year-old’s capture is a big step for the expansion club as they assemble a roster for their inaugural campaign in 2023.
A two-time premiership winner with the Melbourne Storm, Kaufusi has made 12 appearances for Queensland as well as playing international football for both Australia and Tonga.
Dolphins NRL chief executive Terry Reader said Kaufusi’s experience was a key asset for the club, who had previously only signed unheralded hooker Harrison Graham to their roster for 2023.
“It is imperative the Dolphins build a squad that contains players of representative calibre and Felise certainly fits that mould,” Reader said.
“The fact that he grew up in Bundaberg is also a positive for Queensland’s newest professional sporting team.”
Despite missing out on targets such as Fa’asumaleaui, Welch and North Queensland outside back Hamiso Tabuai-Fidow, there are still some major players being linked to Wayne Bennett and the Dolphins for their foundation squad.
Kaufusi’s Storm teammates Cameron Munster and Brandon Smith are yet to decide their futures beyond next year while Newcastle star Kalyn Ponga is another on Bennett’s radar.
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