Trai Fuller pumped for wet-and-wild Dolphins recall

Jacob Shteyman |

Trai Fuller gets another chance to impress as the Dolphins welcome Canberra to Kayo Stadium.
Trai Fuller gets another chance to impress as the Dolphins welcome Canberra to Kayo Stadium.

Dolphins diamond in the rough Trai Fuller will be out to make the most of first-choice fullback Hamiso Tabuai-Fidow’s State of Origin absence against Canberra and cement his claim to be a regular NRL starter.

After Fuller’s man-of-the-match performance in the round-10 win over Manly, it seemed coach Wayne Bennett would have little choice but to find a spot for the 27-year-old in his starting 13.

But with the roster in top form and the unstoppable force of Tabuai-Fidow hammering down the door, Fuller was forced to sit out his side’s next two matches.

His teammates are expecting a fired-up Fuller to bring plenty of energy to a sold-out Kayo Stadium on Saturday.

“The way he runs the ball back, it just inspires the team and definitely the boys are all keen to have him back,” Dolphins lock Ray Stone said. 

“We love having him there. It’s just unfortunate (for Fuller) that we’ve got two amazing fullbacks that would both be fullbacks at any club.”

Fuller’s heroics against the Sea Eagles turned him into an overnight fan favourite at Redcliffe. 

He got the Dolphins back in the match against Manly with a chip-and-chase try, sparking the hosts from 16-4 down to 30-24 winners.

The Dolphins will be eager to cement their place in the top-four against the Raiders after surrendering a lead in their loss to the Warriors in the last round.

“Every time I’ve versed the Raiders they’ve been a pretty tough team, so I’m just expecting that tough brand of footy,” Stone said.

Canberra coach Ricky Stuart hoped the return of experienced prop Josh Papalii from suspension would add some steel to his side’s defence after a humbling 44-16 loss to the Sydney Roosters last Saturday.

“We’ve shown in patches and halves of football what we can do defensively, and we’ve also shown some inferior defence,” Stuart said.

“It’s a little bit like our attack. We’ve shown really good signs of attack at times and then there’s times there we’ve got to be smarter.

“The inconsistency in our game is something that we want to keep working on.”

With up to 20 millimetres of rain expected to fall on Kayo Stadium on Saturday, Stuart is expecting a similar quagmire to the Raiders’ first outing at the venue in 2023.

“Your kicking game is important with these types of conditions,” he said.

Stuart has brought Ata Mariota into the starting line-up to cover second-rower Hudson Young, who is away on NSW Blues camp ahead of the State of Origin series opener.

The Dolphins have lost second-rower Felise Kaufusi to Queensland duty, with Mark Nicholls named in the starting line-up in his absence.

Anthony Milford will start in the halves for the Dolphins against his old team after five-eighth Kodi Nikorima was a late scratching.