Grit needed for Dolphins to win Battle for Brisbane

Published 4:05pm 9 April 2024

Grit needed for Dolphins to win Battle for Brisbane
Words by Kylie Knight
Image: File photo

Dolphins hitman Felise Kaufusi won’t be lining up for the Battle of Brisbane but he’s confident his team can beat the Broncos on Friday night if they play with the same grit and determination shown in the opening rounds of the 2024 competition.

Kaufusi has been sidelined with a hamstring injury suffered in the Dolphins’ 26-16 win over Wests Tigers last weekend.

Joining him is star signing Herbie Farnworth (grade three AC joint injury), with Tesi Niu to take his place.

See the team lists for both sides here 

Kaufusi says the injury is worse than first thought and it will take a few more weeks to get back to full strength.

“The Battle of Brisbane, playing the Broncos at Suncorp … it doesn’t get much better or bigger than that. I’ve missed it two years in a row now, which obviously sucks but that’s the game we play,” he says.

“It will be a good test to see where we’re at, playing some quality opposition. Both sides have got players out which is good – it makes it a bit more even.

“It will be a pretty big occasion.”

Kaufusi says the club, presently at the top of the table, was in a similar position last year before injuries and suspensions caused a performance slump.

“I think this is a good opportunity to see the depth in our roster and the boys willing to stand up. I think that’s exciting to watch,” he says.

Anthony Milford will return to the team for his first NRL game in 2024, replacing Kurt Donoghoe, after a successful return for the Dolphins’ affiliate club, Central Queensland Capras last week.

“He’s been awesome. He’s training really well. He’s fit. I know he played on the weekend. He’s looking really good. A good, healthy, fit Milford is something you should be aware of. It will be good to see him get a run, if he does," Kaufusi says.

“If he gets that opportunity, I’m sure he’ll take it with both hands and show us what he’s obviously capable of doing.”

Grit needed for Dolphins to win Battle for Brisbane

Tough talk

So, why does he think they can beat the Broncos despite the high number of key players out this week.

“We’ve been playing with a bit of grit. None of our games have been pretty. We’ve had to work pretty hard,” he explains.

“I think if we bring that same mentality … playing tough, playing boring, playing simple … we’re not a pretty team, we’ve got a lot of strike power across the park, but we play pretty simple and pretty basic. I think if we stick to that, which is what has been working, there’s a good chance.”

Friday night’s Battle for Brisbane (8pm kick-off) comes after a brave win 26-16 win over Wests Tigers last weekend, during which the side lost three players to injury.

Afterwards, Head Coach Wayne Bennett expressed concern about replacing those key players and has, this afternoon announced the ‘next men up’.

The Broncos are also managing injuries, and will be without Captain and halfback Adam Reynolds, with Jock Madden to take his place.

On Monday, Broncos centre Kotoni Staggs said having star fullback Reece Walsh return from injury for the clash will be a boost for his side who will focus on defending well.

Staggs is looking forward to the clash.

“Just the way it’s all built up throughout the week. The fans outside, the way they build it up. It’s always going to be a big game … anyone we come up against in Queensland whether it’s Dolphins, Cowboys or Titans,” he said.

The former Redcliffe Dolphins player (#743) emphatically said ‘this is our house’ during last year’s first game at Suncorp Stadium on March 24. The Broncos won 18-12.

“That wasn’t really planned. Once I scored that try, it just came to me. It was the first game we’d ever played against Dolphins. I just wanted to let them know who owned Suncorp,” Staggs said.

The second Battle for Brisbane game was played at The Gabba on July 1. The Broncos made it two in a row, winning 24-16.

Last year’s Suncorp Stadium clash was a home game for the Dolphins, with the tables turned this time around.

“That crowd was unbelievable. It was all their fans last year but I’m looking forward to seeing all our fans out there,” Staggs said.

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