Bundaberg junior Felise Kaufusi a late Falcons inclusion
SUNSHINE Coast Falcons are boosted by the late inclusion of Melbourne Storm prop and Bundaberg junior Felise Kaufusi.
Kaufusi, Waves Tigers coach and former NRL star Antonio's younger brother, will start for the Falcons in their game against Ipswich Jets at Stafford Park tonight.
The Past Brothers junior arrived in Hervey Bay this morning.
While his opportunity to play within the Bundaberg Rugby League's territory is a huge opportunity for the competition, it is an even bigger occasion for the 23-year-old.
It will be the closest Kaufusi gets to playing in front of his true home crowd, and the front-rower said he would be encouraged by family support.
"It's as close as I'm going to get home, that's for sure," he said.
"It brings back some memories. I played some footy here growing up as well.
"I've got the old girl and a couple sisters coming down. When they can they do (watch a few Storm games live).
"It'll be good man. To have some family support you don't get week in week out, and it'll be good to have them on the sideline cheering me on."
Kaufusi last played at Stafford Park as an under-18s player for Past Brothers in 2009, before he spent three years in North Queensland Cowboys' National Youth Competition squad, which included an appearance in the Cowboys' grand final-losing side in 2011.
He left the NRL club for Northern Pride in 2013, then signed a one-year deal with Melbourne Storm for 2014.
He has been there ever since. His NRL debut came against St George-Illawarra in the first round of the 2015 season, and has now accrued 24 appearances in the NRL.
Monday's game against New Zealand Warriors will be the first time Kaufusi has not played for the Storm this season, so the 189cm prop will have something to prove when he takes the field for the Falcons tonight.
"It's going to be a tough one," he said about the Intrust Super Cup game.
"Hopefully we can get the two points and I can gel a bit with the boys."
Falcons coach Craig Ingebrigtsen said Kaufusi would add size and experience to his pack.
"He's played well at NRL level and adds that experience to the side," he said.
"We're looking forward to it. It's great to give something back to the community.
"(Ipswich are) due for a win so our guys have to be at their best," he said.
Kick-off is at 6.30pm.