NRL 2024 Dolphins v South Sydney Rabbitohs: Four things learned

“We just needed that forward who can do that sort of stuff. He was very dominant.”

Felise Kaufusi will return to the fold once he has fulfilled his Queensland State of Origin commitments, and will need to provide valuable support to Pangai Junior if the Dolphins are to remain in top four contention.

Can, and will, the Dolphins keep Fuller?

Trai Fuller has been a revelation stepping into the No.1 jumper for fullback Hamiso Tabuai-Fidow. And has proven to be too good to not be playing regular NRL.

While the late-blooming 27-year-old has previously said his desire is to remain at Redcliffe, having come through the ranks since his 2018 Queensland Cup debut, it would take a bold move from 2025 coach-in-waiting Kristian Woolf to get him into the team full-time.

Some pundits have speculated Tabuai-Fidow could be moved to his Maroons position of centre, but both “The Hammer” and Bennett have stated his best position would remain at fullback.

Trai Fuller in full flight for the Dolphins against the Rabbitohs.

Trai Fuller in full flight for the Dolphins against the Rabbitohs.Credit: NRL Photos

But aside from one error under a high kick, Fuller was sublime – finishing with a try and 204 metres.

He even came up with a brilliant try-saver, left in a three-on-one situation as Rabbitohs centre Taane Milne burst through a hole and still coming up with a crunching tackle.

However, Bennett was adamant that unless a starting fullback spot became available, Fuller needed to remain in Dolphins colours.

“If you want to give bravery awards out he gets one every week, he’s unbelievable,” Bennett said.

“His courage and what he does with his body, you never see him get much treatment, and he never complains about an injury. Just the force he plays the game at, he’s matching force on force and making sure he’s giving it everything he’s got.

“He’s got a wonderful future, his challenge is just getting an opportunity. Hammer’s here, and there are a lot of good fullbacks in the comp, so if he can’t get himself a starting position anywhere else he shouldn’t leave the Dolphins.

“The Dolphins think the world of him, they want him to stay here and he’s as happy here as anywhere else. If an opportunity comes somewhere to start at fullback that might be different.”

Katoa’s influence could determine season

Isaiya Katoa may just be one of the most important players in Queensland, as the Dolphins lock themselves in as the state’s top finals prospect.

The 20-year-old has announced himself as one of the game’s most talented young halfbacks, not just for his skillset but composure under pressure.

Isaiya Katoa puts a kick through for the Dolphins against the Rabbitohs.

Isaiya Katoa puts a kick through for the Dolphins against the Rabbitohs.Credit: NRL Photos

Early on he did not overplay his hand, giving Herbie Farnworth early ball, so the Englishman could utilise his footwork and score, while opening up Fuller’s attacking arsenal and kicking deep to keep the Rabbitohs deep in their own territory.

Come the second half, Katoa produced two moments of brilliance.

The first, a pinpoint grubber on fourth tackle at close range for his halves partner Kodi Nikorima to score. The second, he attacked the blindside straight from the kick-off following O’Sullivan’s try to put Bostock through a hole to orchestrate Fuller’s four-pointer.

While loose ball cost the Dolphins the chance to build on their eight-point halftime lead, and directly led to two of Rabbitohs winger Jacob Gagai’s three tries, Katoa has now built a resume of several close finishes and will no doubt have taken many a lesson from the past six weeks.

Losses to the Warriors, Storm and Raiders in six points or fewer have now been offset by Thursday night’s victory and the win over Cronulla, and with stern tests against the likes of Sydney, Penrith and Melbourne again will no doubt need to come to Katoa’s front of mind.

Aikten’s last game as a Dolphin?

The sight of Aitken clutching at his pectoral, shaking on the ground as he responded to the pain, could be the last thing Dolphins fans get to see of the versatile forward.

Euan Atiken has potentially played his last game for the Dolphins.

Euan Atiken has potentially played his last game for the Dolphins.Credit: NRL Photos

The 29-year-old, whose permanent shift to the back row has yielded his most consistent campaign since his days as a young Dragons centre, is set to miss the rest of the season as he recovers from a torn pec suffered in the early exchanges of Thursday night’s win.

Aitken has ironically been linked with a move to the Rabbitohs next year, where he would follow Bennett, who will take the reins at Redfern on a three-year deal.

Bennett confirmed Aitken would be unlikely to play again this season, potentially opening the door for 21-year-old rookie Oryn Keeley to add to his two appearances in Dolphins colours.

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