Dolphins poach Kuli from Cowboys on three-year deal

Joel Gould |

Powerful North Queensland forward Kulikefu Finefeuiaki will join the Dolphins from next year.
Powerful North Queensland forward Kulikefu Finefeuiaki will join the Dolphins from next year.

The Dolphins have regenerated and energised their forward pack with the signing of North Queensland second-rower Kulikefu Finefeuiaki on a three-year deal.

The 20-year-old powerhouse, known as ‘Kuli’, will join the Dolphins next year through until the end of  2027.

The Dolphins have several forwards over the age of 30, including Jesse Bromwich, Mark Nicholls, Jarrod Wallace, Kenny Bromwich and Felise Kaufusi.

Finefeuiaki, with 19 games for the Cowboys under his belt, is already making an impact on the NRL but his upside into the future is there for all to see.

Born in New Zealand, Finefeuiaki moved to Queensland when he was 11 and came through the Ipswich State High program, as did Cronulla’s Ronaldo Mulitalo and Gold Coast’s Phil Sami.

The  Cowboys forward toured the Dolphins facility in Redcliffe last month and coach Wayne Bennett said at the time he was hopeful the club had got their man.

“We are very excited to have Kuli join the Dolphins,” the club’s chief executie Terry Reader said.

“The Dolphins have always said that recruitment was not just about year one and that we would take our time to build the squad and gain in strength with the right players.

“Kuli is also another example of a kid from southeast Queensland having the opportunity to come home to play NRL near his friends and family.”

Finefeuiaki is a Redbank Plains junior who represented the Queensland under-19s team in 2022, having earlier played for the Ipswich Jets in the Mal Meninga Cup.

Ipswich State High School head coach Josh Bretherton told AAP Finefeuiaki embraced the physical side of the game as a youngster.

“Back in Year 10 we had a trial game on the front oval at school. He took a run from 15 metres out, ran over a poor defender like he was a speed bump and scored a try,” Bretherton  said.

“He celebrated the try while blood was streaming from his nose and running through his mouth and teeth.

“We had to point out to Kuli that he was bleeding quite severely. That sort of want and desire in a 15-year-old is rare.”