Bradford Bulls v St helens: On-loan Kaufusi says he’s nothing to prove

Antonio Kaufusi celebrates with Huddersfield's Big G mascot.
Antonio Kaufusi celebrates with Huddersfield's Big G mascot.
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As a former Australian Test player, State of Origin representative and NRL Grand Finalist, Antonio Kaufusi can easily back up his claim that he has nothing to prove following his surprise exit from Huddersfield Giants.

Nonetheless, while on loan at Bradford Bulls, the powerful front-row is undoubtedly keen to remind people of his true ability.

He gets the chance to do that again tomorrow when St Helens arrive at Odsal, a week after the 29 year-old made an impressive debut at the same ground in the shock win over Warrington Wolves.

Tongan-born Kaufusi had joined 2013 League Leaders’ Shield winners Huddersfield from London Broncos last winter on a two-year deal and was expected to add even further ballast to Paul Anderson’s mighty pack.

However, as they struggled to replicate their form of last season, he lost his place in the side over Easter and, eventually, was loaned out for a month to bottom-placed Bradford who were down to their last fit prop forward.

“I found out last Friday and it was a little bit of a surprise because I had signed for Huddersfield and want to play for them,” he said.

“A spanner has been thrown in the works but I’ll go with the flow and crack on.

“I’d be lying if I said I wasn’t disappointed but that’s how things have worked out and I’m not going to sit around and kick stones.

“I’ve got a great opportunity to come here and play. That’s what I want to do. I was asked before ‘have I got a point to prove?’

“I haven’t got a point to prove to anyone and I’ll say that right now.

“The only person I need to prove a point to is myself. If I’m happy, then I’ll play my best footie so I’ll come here and rip in.”

After seven consecutive Super League losses, Bradford stunned Warrington 34-28 and moved off the foot of the table, too.

Bolstered tomorrow by the return of fit-again props Manase Manuokafoa and Chev Walker, plus centre Luke George who was injured in the warm-up last Sunday, they will look to quickly build on that victory when Saints arrive.

“I think everyone wrote off the Bulls last week but we found a way,” admitted Kaufusi.

“I came into the team at short notice and the boys made me feel really welcome.

“It’s a simple game for me and I fitted in really well and was just glad to get the result for the team.

“I was blowing a fair bit out there but I was happy with the way Franny wanted me to play with two different stints in both halves. It was good how it worked out. For me it’s just about enjoying my rugby. If I’m enjoying my footie then I play good footie.

“I looked around at the end of the game and everyone was elated, which was really good for the club.

“We had a few young players who stepped up to the plate really well and I was full of admiration for them.

“But we need to play better this week against St Helens. We know that. It’s going to be tough.”

The availability once more of Manuokafoa after a hamstring injury will aid their chances especially against a notoriously physical Saints pack that includes the likes of Mose Masoe, Alex Walmsley and Louie McCarthy-Scarsbrook.

“I know Nas (Manuokafoa) really well,” said ex-Melbourne Storm star Kaufusi.

“We played together at the (North Queensland) Cowboys and in the 2008 World Cup together for Tonga.

“We are good mates. When everything was happening, he was calling me up and saying ‘we need you to come and play for the Bulls’.

“Hopefully we can play together this weekend.”

Kaufusi, in particular, will be seeking to make an impact given he has to sit out next Sunday’s game with Huddersfield at Magic Weekend as part of the terms of his loan deal.

“I’d rather be playing because, like I said, I just want to be playing footie,” he added.

“Unfortunately I can’t. Who will I be cheering for? It’ll be a hard one – I’ll just stay out of it.”

Paul Wellens plus Greg Richards are back for Saints who have lost only twice in Super League all season and are looking to narrow the gap on leaders Leeds Rhinos to just a solitary point.