NRL: Felise Kaufusi signs with Dolphins

After missing out on some of the most enticing talent on the market, the Dolphins have finally lured a big fish to Redcliffe.

After being rejected by some of the most valuable forwards on the market, the Dolphins have confirmed State of Origin star Felise Kaufusi will join the club from 2023 as their first major NRL signing.

The Dolphins’ hopes of luring a big fish to Redcliffe before the end of the month appeared to be fading when the likes of Christian Welch, Tino Fa’asuamaleaui, Reagan Campbell-Gillard and Isaiah Papali’i all opted to sign contracts elsewhere for 2023 and beyond.

On Friday, though, the NRL’s newest side confirmed it had finally got its man, with Kaufusi inking a three-year contract.

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The Dolphins’ NRL team chief executive Terry Reader said he was pleased to have the premiership-winning Melbourne Storm forward on-board.

“It is imperative the Dolphins build a squad that contains players of representative calibre and Felise certainly fits that mould,” Reader said.

Reader said Kaufusi’s big-game experience and local links made him a good fit for the fledgling NRL side.

“He has played 12 Origin matches for Queensland as well as representing Australia so will bring some important experience to the playing group we are building to debut in the competition,” he said.

“The fact that he grew up in Bundaberg is also a positive for Queensland’s newest professional sporting team.

“Felise has been part of a very successful era for the Storm club in recent years, so we are excited about the leadership and strong work ethic he will bring to the Dolphins.”

Kaufusi will spend next season at the Storm, where he has played his entire NRL career to date.

His 152 NRL appearances have included two grand final wins (2017 and 2020).

Kaufusi’s signing comes the day after Melbourne re-signed another of its premier forwards in Welch.

As a Queenslander with proven leadership capabilities, Welch had been linked with a move to the Dolphins but has agreed to a contract extension that will keep him in Melbourne until he’s 31.

It remains to be seen whether Kaufusi’s teammate Brandon Smith will join him up north. The popular dummy half has spent the off-season spruiking his wares to rival clubs but is contracted with the Storm until the end of 2022.

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