Dolphins forward Felise Kaufusi set to miss Brisbane derby after copping three-match suspension

Dolphins forward Felise Kaufusi is set to miss next weekend’s highly-anticipated Brisbane derby against the Brisbane Broncos after copping a three-match suspension from the NRL match review committee.

Kaufusi was put on report twice and sin-binned during Friday evening’s 36-20 victory over the Newcastle Knights at McDonald Jones Stadium.

The 30-year-old was put on report for a high shot in the 63rd minute and handed his marching orders five minutes later for a late hit on Newcastle halfback Jackson Hastings, who was sent for an HIA due to whiplash.

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On Saturday morning, the NRL match review committee handed down a Grade 2 charge for “dangerous contact”; because it was Kaufusi’s third offence, he received a three-match suspension on an early plea.

Speaking to reporters in the post-match press conference, Knights coach Adam O’Brien argued Kaufusi’s late shot “probably” warranted a sin bin, but refused to comment on whether he thought Hastings should have been forced off for an HIA.

“It was late and in the back, so it probably needs to go to the bin,” O’Brien said.

Meanwhile, Knights centre Lucas Dylan copped a $1500 fine for his crusher tackle on Euan Aitken.

When asked in the post-match press conference whether he was concerned Kaufusi could be unavailable next week, Dolphins coach Wayne Bennett claimed he was more worried about the veteran forward’s handling errors.

“I’m more concerned with his three dropped balls than anything else,” Bennett smirked.

“He shouldn’t be (happy with his game).

“He wants to stay out of my way for a couple of days. I have no doubt he won’t be happy to see my face.”

The Dolphins, who have started their season with three consecutive wins, shift their attention towards next weekend’s match against Bennett’s former club at Suncorp Stadium, with kick-off scheduled for 8pm AEDT on Friday, March 24.

“There’s no pressure this week. It’s (the derby) the easiest game in the world to coach,” Bennett said.

“Everybody wants to play in it. If you’re a football player you want to be there at the best stadium in Australia. I don’t think anyone will need motivating to be there.”

Meanwhile, Sydney Roosters centre Joseph Manu is facing a stint on the sidelines after the NRL match review committee handed down a Grade 2 charge for his high tackle on Rabbitohs rival Isaiah Tass during Friday evening’s blockbuster clash in Sydney.

The hit sparked a melee between Manu and Rabbitohs forward Michael Chee Kam, resulting in both players being sin-binned during the second half of Sydney’s 20-18 victory.

The 26-year-old can accept a one-match suspension with an early guilty plea, meaning he would miss the Roosters’ next fixture against the Parramatta Eels, while Chee Kam has been fined for his role in the incident.

Elsewhere, Roosters teammate Fletcher Baker was fined $1000 for a high shot on Rabbitohs centre Campbell Graham, while South Sydney playmaker Cody Walker also coped a $1000 fine for rough contact with Sam Walker.

Originally published as Bennett dealt blow as Dolphins enforcer hit with big ban; Roosters star learns fate

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