Kaufusi feeling ‘bloody awesome’ after Maroons recall

Felise Kaufusi had an emotional response to his recall to the Queensland team, but admits it was his own fault that he missed out last year on playing State of Origin.

Jun 21, 2024, updated Jun 21, 2024
Felise Kaufusi with Reece Walsh on the sideline during Game 1 of the State of Origin 2024. (AAP Image/Dan Himbrechts)

Felise Kaufusi with Reece Walsh on the sideline during Game 1 of the State of Origin 2024. (AAP Image/Dan Himbrechts)

The 15-game Origin veteran played the first two games of the 2022 Origin series before missing game three to be with his late father Taniela, who died that year.

He missed last year’s series due to suspensions with the Dolphins.

The 32-year-old was 18th man in the 38-10 win over NSW in game one this year but was activated and played after fullback Reece Walsh was concussed and NSW centre Joseph-Aukuso Suaalii sent off.

Now he is in the 17 and grateful for the chance in game two at the MCG on Wednesday night.

“It is bloody awesome,” Kaufusi said.

“To play Origin, and then not be selected last year for obvious reasons, and to come back in … the feeling I get is ‘I miss this’.

“To play for Queensland is the pinnacle of what you want to do growing up. I keep pinching myself that I am back in here and I am loving every moment of it.”

Kaufusi said he had mixed emotions watching the Maroons win last year’s series 2-1 when asked if he found it tough.

“Yes and no. I know it was my own fault in the end. I couldn’t really be angry,” he said.

“To watch those boys and how they went about their business last year, I was just like any other Queenslander from the sidelines cheering them on. Hopefully we can win another series this year.”

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Kaufusi was absent for seven weeks due to suspension last year and missed Maroons selection. An uncompromising defender he has found the right balance this season and has been rewarded for still being an enforcer but also staying within the rules.

“I have had to (find that balance) after missing out on a lot of footy last year,” he said.

“That was my downfall and I had to get it right otherwise I’d be sitting on the sideline or I wouldn’t be here. You could say I have dialled it back a bit but (aggression) is part of my game and part of who I am.”

Kaufusi, who won the 2017 and 2020 NRL titles with Melbourne, spent many days gazing at the MCG. He made his Origin debut there as well in 2018 in a 22-12 loss to NSW.

“It feels like it has come back full circle. It is such an iconic venue. You can’t beat Suncorp but that will be up there or close to it,” he said.

“Just the atmosphere running out it feels like a colosseum and you are a gladiator. It is huge and such a big thing.”

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