Too old, too slow, past their prime.
While Wayne Bennett lauded the experience of his three main signings lured to the Dolphins from the Melbourne Storm, others questioned what the trio of Jesse Bromwich, Kenny Bromwich and Felise Kaufusi might bring to the new side.
It seems Kaufusi took the criticism which bubbled away all pre-season personally, winding back the clock to produce an inspiring performance as the Dolphins recorded a Round 1 win for the ages against the Roosters, with two big hits in particular proving key turning points in the game.
His performance in the second row saw him claim the inaugural Artie Legacy Medal, forged in honour of the great Arthur Beetson who played with both the Roosters and with Redcliffe Dolphins.
Kaufusi’s overall stats from the game were impressive, with 96 run metres and a tackle break. He also made 30 tackles, while his skipper Jesse Bromwich made 103 metres with four tackle breaks, and brother Kenny Bromwich made 139 metres.
Fired up like big Artie in that first Origin match in 1980, Kaufusi ignited the stadium with his brutal hit on former Melbourne team mate Brandon Smith and then backed it up with another hit on Egan Butcher, with both tackles causing turnovers and on the latter case, resulting in points.
As a Queensland Origin player, the aura of Beetson looms large in the consciousness, with the Rugby League Immortal’s significance to the game something that is a focus in Maroons camp.
"To be given (the medal) by one of his sons was more special, it is something I will frame, up along with my debut jersey, and will put up in the board room,” Kaufusi told media in the sheds after the game.
“It is all just sinking in. The emotions are pretty high, but that is the number (11) that Artie wore in his first Origin.
“That gave me goosebumps too.”
Coach Bennett had plenty of praise for his first major signing to the club.
“I think that was the turning point in the game for us, about 12 minutes out from halftime there, he made a couple of crucial hits there, they were deadest (great),” Bennett said.
“(The Roosters) lost the ball, they thought they were going places then all of a sudden, we were down on their tryline and I don’t think they recovered from that actually, so it was a pretty influential performance by him and he got the Arthur Beetson medal and I am sure he’s very proud of himself.”
Stan Original’s 'Dawn of the Dolphins' was released on Monday, with the documentary giving an insight into the recruitment strategy for the club that had it’s fair share of critics before the Dolphins claimed their Round 1 win.
“They bring a lot of things, they bring a winning attitude. If you’ve got those three guys sitting there in the team you’ve got yourself a forward pack,” Bennett says during the first episode.
Dubbed “Phin Diesel” by some of his fellow team mates, Kaufusi will now need to back up his fast and furious performance from the opening game to ensure that initial criticism the side had to endure during their pre-season doesn’t return.
While it’s relatively easy to be 'up' for a big occasion in front of a home crowd in what was the club’s first-ever game, the true measure of character comes next.
Kaufusi and co may have proved the doubters wrong in Round 1, but if that’s their only victory of the season, it will been seen as a disappointing season overall, by the club and their fans.
This Saturday, the Dolphins host the Raiders and come up against a pack with a reigning Dally M prop of the year in Joseph Tapine and representative forwards Corey Harawira-Naera and Elliott Whitehead in what will be another opportunity to prove themselves and also prove that their opening victory was no fluke.
With young crop of forwards including Connelly Lemuelu and Tom Gilbert in good form and a breakout performance from hooker Jeremy Marshall-King showing what he can do, there is enough depth coming through to convince Dolphins fans of a bright future ahead.
Match: Dolphins v Raiders
Round 2 -
Venue: Kayo Stadium, Redcliffe