LOSS: Bundaberg-born Sunshine Coast Falcon Felise Kaufusi was strong but could not lead his side to victory. The Melbourne Storm-contracted prop scored the Falcons’ sole try in the 78th minute.
LOSS: Bundaberg-born Sunshine Coast Falcon Felise Kaufusi was strong but could not lead his side to victory. The Melbourne Storm-contracted prop scored the Falcons’ sole try in the 78th minute. Alistair Brightman

Felise Kaufusi strong but Falcons still fall

FELISE Kaufusi's return to Hervey Bay's Stafford Park did not go to plan but the hulking Melbourne Storm prop was simply happy to be close to home.

The Bundaberg-born front-rower was a late inclusion for the Sunshine Coast Falcons, who brought their eighth round Intrust Super Cup clash against Ipswich Jets to the Fraser Coast.

Ipswich left the Seagulls' nest with the competition points after the 20-6 win, but for Kaufusi it was an opportunity to return home.

Kaufusi last played at the ground when he was a member of Past Brothers' under-18s in 2009, and said he was happy to return to the site of several wins in his junior career.

"It was good. It brought back some good memories and I was happy to get out here and have a run," he said.

"It didn't go to plan.

"We were a bit slow to start and they're a quality side the way they play, they're a bit different but they turned up to play and they got us."

Kaufusi was strong throughout his stint on the field, and his efforts were rewarded in the 78th minute when he crashed over for Sunshine Coast's sole try.

The Shalom College graduate spent three years in North Queensland Cowboys' National Youth Competition squad from 2010 to 2012, which included an appearance in the Cowboys' grand final-losing side in 2011.

He left the NRL club for Northern Pride in 2013, and 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, and the 189cm prop knows what he has to work on to return to the NRL side.

"There's obviously heaps to work on there but I'll hopefully keep chipping away at it this week," he said.

"Fingers crossed (Kaufusi will return to the Storm next week), I don't know.

"If not, I'll be doing my way here in Q Cup which is fine, I can get a few minutes under my belt and improve that way."

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