Kaufusi steps up to NRL squad
Thursday 15 November 2012 2:36 PM
These are exciting times for young Toyota Cowboys forward Felise Kaufusi.
On Thursday morning, he had his first on-field training session as a full-time member of North Queensland’s full-time NRL squad and in a few weeks, he’ll be alongside the game’s two best front-rowers, Matthew Scott and James Tamou, almost constantly.
The 20-year-old has successfully graduated from the Cowboys’ NYC program and is set to play his first senior football in the pre-season trials in February.
With Scott, Tamou and the very experienced Ashton Sims ahead of him, he knows winning a spot in the NRL team will be difficult, but it’s not impossible as Tariq Sims showed when he jumped from the Toyota Cup into the NRL almost immediately in 2011.
“I’m really excited. It’s a big step up, but I’m looking forward to it,” Kaufusi said on Thursday.
“It’s my dream to play the game full-time so I’m loving it at the moment.
“If I push myself hard and rip in, I reckon there’s an opportunity there (to play in the NRL).”
A pectoral injury sustained during a pre-season match just about ruined the young front-rower’s final year in the Toyota Cup.
After playing every game of the 2011 campaign that ended in the grand final, he was only able to make six appearances in 2012.
He played the full 80 minutes in three of those games and cracked the 100-metre mark against the Dragons in Wollongong in round 24.
If Kaufusi does make it into the top grade, it would equal the efforts of his older brother Antonio, who can count 33 games for the Cowboys amongst his 144 NRL appearances.
Seven years older than Felise, Antonio also played Test matches for Australia and Tonga and one State of Origin game for Queensland, while their younger brother Patrick is part of the Cowboys’ Toyota Cup again in 2013 after playing in every game in the recent season.
“Hopefully one day,” the middle Kaufusi said when asked if he’d like to emulate his older brother and play for Queensland at Origin level.
“But at the moment, I’m hoping to just rip into this pre-season. Go hard and see how I go.
“I’m hoping to learn a lot from James Tamou, Matt Scott and Ashton Sims – the big props.
“They’ve been there and done that.
“I couldn’t get any better than that to learn off.”