Making an impact for the North Queensland Cowboys as he came through their ranks, barnstorming prop Patrick Kafusi has completed the next step in his rugby league career, signing a 3-year professional deal with the club.
Kaufusi, who is a highly regarded forward at the club, joins the Cowboys NRL squad for the first time next month under new head coach of the club, Paul Green.
Still just 19, Kaufusi came to the Cowboys via the Bundaberg Brothers and has enjoyed personal success in his career so far, playing for the Queensland Under 18’s side and the Queensland Junior Origin side.
Knowing full well that this new contract is the step that he needs to move forward, Kaufusi has mixed emotions about what the new deal means for him, but he is looking forward to potentially playing first-grade.
“Yeah, pretty excited and nervous as well, I guess,” said Kaufusi.
“It’s a great opportunity and I’m really grateful to the club for showing faith in me.”
The Kaufusi name is a common one in rugby league circles and with his brother Felise departing the club to take up a deal with the Melbourne Storm, Patrick was tempted to go down there and join him, but instead decided it was time to forge his own path in rugby league.
“Having my brother go down to the Storm next year and having always been up here with him, I was looking at following him,” said Kaufusi.
“I guess I just want to start doing my own thing.”
With the Cowboys boasting an impressive forward pack, Kaufusi knows that getting into the side will be hard, but it is a challenge he looks forward to.
“I guess I just have to start small and then work my way up,” said Kaufusi.
Kaufusi, who is an emerging prop at the club, will look to the likes of James Tamou and Matt Scott as his NRL mentors moving forward, as he looks to achieve what they have – playing in the NRL.
“They’re two of the best props in the game,” said Kaufusi.
“So to train with them and learn off them will be a good opportunity as well.”
Still eligible for the Under 20’s competition next year, if he had the choice, Kaufusi would want to play in both the Holden Cup and the QLD Cup at different points during the season.
“Yeah, I’d like to play some QCup, but I still want to play 20’s as well,” said Kaufusi.
“I guess we’ll just see how the next year pans out.”
On playing with the U20’s, Kaufusi said:
“I just want to keep in touch with them and play with them.”
For the club, they are excited to retain one of their most promising stars, with Kaufusi now the third player to re-sign at the club after Zac Santo and Javid Bowen.
â€œPatrickâ€™s now played 42 games in the under-20s, as well as some rep footy, and heâ€™s reached the stage in his career where heâ€™s ready to step up to our NRL squad,” said Cowboys recruitment manager Adrian Thomson.
â€œWe expect to see plenty of improvement in his game by being part of the full-time environment.
â€œHeâ€™s a very professional young man who has a great future ahead of him and weâ€™re happy it will be with us for at least the next three years.â€