Why no Kaufusi and Katoa make underdog Dolphins and Wayne Bennett more dangerous against flying Broncos




There has been plenty of fantastic storylines to begin the new NRL season – 2023 has started like a house on fire. No more so than up in Queensland where their four clubs are laying down the gauntlet.

North Queensland are 1-2 but one of the big guns and favourites to be there when the whips are cracking.

The Gold Coast Titans just knocked off the Melbourne Storm.

Kevin Walters and his Brisbane Broncos are undefeated through three rounds with big wins over the back-to-back defending premiers Penrith, a QLD derby triumph over the Cowboys and scored four tries in the final ten minutes to defeat St George Illawarra on Saturday night 40-18.

Some may have expected this to start the year.

Nobody could have predicted the [Redcliffe] Dolphins and what they have done.

Our new boys on the block are 3-0.

The Dolphins are the sexiest thing in league right now.

Hashtag phins, fins all the way up… fin!

All the way from Suncorp Stadium to Moreton Bay.

While the Dolphins have had a fairytale start to the season, many good experts believe reality will hit the Dolphins like a bag of bricks in a few short days.

The Battle of Brisbane is this Friday.

Ask the Broncos and Kevin Walters and they’ll say there’s no rivalry.

Some could argue Redcliffe have been around since 1947.

The Broncos just 1988.

“I guess that’s why the Dolphins were put in Brisbane, to create that rivalry but we’re not rivals of the Dolphins … we’re the Broncos,” Walters said.

“That’s our club, that’s who we are and that’s our mindset, we are the Broncos.”

Fact is the Broncos have had Suncorp Stadium and the Brisbane media too themselves forever and now there’s a rooster in the henhouse.

Every man and their dog showed an interest in Redcliffe’s opening performance at Lang Park against the Sydney Roosters. The Dolphins smashed them. It was a different feeling inside the stadium that day.

The Broncos were watching and if they weren’t, they could hear the rumble from over their back fence at Red Hill.

You could say that even with the Dolphins at full strength this Friday, perhaps they are due for a loss.

Especially against the rampant Broncos who have started 2023 much the same way they did twelve months earlier.

If Friday was their biggest test, the Dolphins were hit with the news their feared axe man Felise ‘Fin Diesel’ Kaufusi had been suspended for four weeks instead of the original three for a late shot on Newcastle’s Jackson Hastings after Kaufusi fronted the judiciary on Tuesday night.

No Kaufusi on Friday.

There’s now word around rugby league town that boom half Isaiya Katoa will also miss the game for the Dolphins due to an arm injury and is expected to be replaced by Anthony Milford who would be making his Dolphins debut at Suncorp against the team he played at for seven seasons.

You’ll note we haven’t mentioned the following name until now and for good reason. It’s because he would be licking his lips at engineering another miracle on Friday night and now he has the ammunition.

Wayne Bennett.

If anyone can turn water into wine out of this situation – it’s the bloke that has been coaching first grade football for almost 40 years.

Wayne himself, in his heart of hearts, perhaps pondered for a moment that the Broncos this week was a bridge too far for his heroic cast of journeymen, veterans, misfits and rookies.

But now Wayne can turn it back on to the players he will have at Suncorp this weekend.

If Katoa is out, the challenge is now on Milford.

It’s his game if he wants it.

No Kaufusi?

‘Which one of you blokes are going to stand up and take his place?’

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He’ll point his long finger across his men and peer into their souls at training.

Looking at you Tom Gilbert and the Bromwich boys, Ray Stone and Jarrod Wallace.

‘Felise has dragged us and pulled us up and given his guts the first three weeks!’

‘Now we don’t have him’

‘Who is going to be Felise this week?’

You can hear his demands in your head.

If you thought the Dolphins going undefeated to start the season was a shock – why can’t Bennett get them up again for the Broncos?

It’s Brisbane’s game to lose.

The Dolphins won’t go away wondering.


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