Who can replace Felise Kaufusi?
That’s the question from the Fox Sports Lab ahead of the NRL’s first-ever Battle of Brisbane.
Friday night’s clash between NRL newcomers Dolphins and Brisbane Broncos has been stripped of some of its star appeal following the four-game ban handed down to back rower Felise Kaufusi at Justice this week.
With hooker Jeremy Marshall-King also unavailable, rugby league great Josh Morris said it would be enough to tip the clash at Suncorp Stadium in favor of the Broncos.
“We saw them ambush the Roosters in Round 1 and I’m sure (coach) Wayne (Bennett) will have them ready for this game,” Morris told host Eloise Sohier.
“The main concern is the loss of Kaufusi. He set the tone defensively for them.
“Who steps forward and takes their place?”
Morris was impressed by the Broncos, who scored 22 points in the final 10 minutes to blew away St. George Illawarra 40-18 last week.
Felise Kaufusi is a massive loss to the Dolphins. Image: Cameron Spencer/Getty Images
“The Broncos were in a tight game for 70 minutes and then ran away for the last 10 minutes with what you want to see when you’re in those arm wrestling — that ability to shift gears,” he said.
Stats guru Tim Williams said the Dolphins may struggle to stop the Broncos from crossing the advantage line.
“They actually had 250 more post-contact yards than second place in the NRL,” Williams said. “Obviously at the expense of Payne Haas and Pat Carrigan, who were outstanding.”
Both unbeaten times meet in-form full-backs.
Reece Walsh was a revelation in his two games in defense for Brisbane, while Hamiso Tabuai-Fidow’s improved workmanship was a highlight of the Dolphins’ quick start to the season.
“Reece Walsh came in and put on two brilliant performances, he’s lighting it up with his pace,” Morris said. “They’re both real speedsters, but I think Reece Walsh is more valuable to the team.”
Williams added, “It was good to see Hammer 15+ runs for the Dolphins more than anything just his involvement in games.
“Reece Walsh, he was fantastic, was relatively calm in the first half last week but the last 10 minutes he came and got up when it mattered with two late tries.”
Watch Fox Sports Lab’s NRL video segment above.
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