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After spending seven weeks of his team’s inaugural season on the sidelines through suspension, Dolphins forward Felise Kaufusi is looking ahead to a more consistent year on the field as his club aims to build on what they achieved this year.

Dubbed 'Phin Diesel', in the early stages of the season, Kaufusi’s aggression and imposing presence was lauded by fans, but tackles gone wrong then meant that he was forced to miss Round 4 to Round 7 for Dangerous Contact and then Round 13 to Round 15 with a Careless High Tackle charge.

The former Storm man also copped a $3000 fine for a Careless High Tackle later in the season.

Kaufusi, who also shared his hurt at relinquishing his Maroons jersey while he was on the sidelines, said although he would always be an aggressive player, he needed to make adjustments to stay on the field.

“(Last year was) probably one of the most inconsistent years I've had of footy, felt like I didn't play too much last year,” Kaufusi said.

“It sucks when you're out suspended, you're not injured; you're able to train and there's no excuse there, so it's really just honing it down a bit.

Kaufusi smashes former team mate

“(With making big hits), the key word there is legal, so a second too late, you're looking a couple of weeks, a tiny bit higher, looking a couple of weeks.

“There are rules in the game for a reason … that’s so no one gets seriously injured.

“(Next season, I am) just looking to stay on the field and I think all it is, is the target zone just needs to drop a bit and be a split second earlier and I should be right.

“Everyone’s saying I have a big enforcer role, but for me, I think it's just part of my game, that's who I am.

“I'm aggressive, it’s part of my DNA, but ... there guidelines or rules for a reason and just (to) stay inside them.”

Next season, with Tom Gilbert and the incoming Thomas Flegler also on deck, the Dolphins will have an intimidating pack but the ‘two Toms’ will also have to work to make sure they colour within the lines.

“He's a madman in himself and I love that about him, that's part of his game, his aggression,” Kaufusi said of Flegler.

“(With) his youth and being in that final series, playing in the grand final, in big games and obviously for Australia, I think that'll bring a lot to our team.

“I think it's just all about balance; you have obviously got Tommy Gilbert as well who's a madman himself and he'll throw all of his 98kg around, so I think we will be pretty aggressive all over the park.”

Felise Kaufusi training with the Dolphins.
Felise Kaufusi training with the Dolphins. ©Rowan Clark / The Dolphins

Back with the squad after some extended time off following his return from Tonga’s tour of England, already this pre-season, Kaufusi had noted a shift in focus at the Dolphins, with coach Wayne Bennett pushing the players harder in preparation for their second season.

“It definitely has been really tough,” Kaufusi said.

“I've been hearing some horror stories from when I've been on break and I think the boys – the first group started in November – and just hearing the stories of what they've been up to, I'm glad I had a couple more weeks on my sleeve, but it definitely has been tougher and yeah, he's put the hammer down.

“I think (what is different from last year’s pre-season is) our potential really.

“(In our) first year in comp; we had no expectations, but I think we surprised ourselves as well in how good the footy was we can play and hopefully (next season) we'll try and be in our first final series.

“Last year was a year of firsts, no-one gave us anything, we didn’t really give us anything though.

“I would love to push for a finals berth and create another first for this club, so we'll be doing our best.”

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