Cam Munster and Felise Kaufusi run a play at training. Picture: AAP
Cam Munster and Felise Kaufusi run a play at training. Picture: AAP

Maroons’ left-field switch to forge lethal partnership

MAROONS back-rower Felise Kaufusi is ready to team with Cameron Munster and establish the type of left-edge strike force that made Johnathan Thurston and Gavin Cooper so lethal for the Cowboys.

The return from injury of Matt Gillett, Queensland's No.1 back-rower, has triggered a tactical switch that will see Kaufusi move from his traditional right-side role to operate on the left in Origin I on Wednesday night.

The Thurston-Cooper union was such a potent left-edge alliance it inspired the Cowboys' premiership charge in 2015 before the duo combined two years later in the Origin arena for Queensland.

Kaufusi first forged a reputation running smart and brutal lines off Cooper Cronk on Melbourne's right edge, but his shift to the left for the Maroons gives him a chance to work with his Storm teammate Munster.

Queensland's No.6 Munster will call the shots on the Maroons' left side and Kaufusi hopes running off him will evoke memories of Cooper scoring countless tries hitting perfectly-timed Thurston passes.

Asked if he and Munster were keen to take a leaf from the Thurston-Cooper partnership, Kaufusi said: "Definitely.

"Being the type of player Cameron is, he will steer the ship on the left edge and I'll run my lines.

Felise Kaufusi and Cam Munster will link on Queensland’s left edge. Picture: Adam Head
Felise Kaufusi and Cam Munster will link on Queensland’s left edge. Picture: Adam Head
"We have guys like Michael Morgan and Corey Oates on that left side so it's a pretty dangerous edge if you ask me.

"I'll be looking to build that combination with Munster and hopefully come out on Origin night and put it together."

While Kaufusi has played 97 games for the Storm almost exclusively as a right-sided back-rower, the 27-year-old is happy to make the big switch to accommodate Gillett.

"It's a bit of a difference playing left edge, but we have a couple of training sessions to get those combinations right," he said.

"I will let him (Munster) play his game and be there as his little support act.

"We've all seen what he does, especially on the Origin stage, so I'll be looking to run off him.

Felise Kaufusi (second from left) and Cam Munster (far right) at East Tigers in 2014. Picture: Andrew Seymour.
Felise Kaufusi (second from left) and Cam Munster (far right) at East Tigers in 2014. Picture: Andrew Seymour.

"It is the left side but I'm still doing the same thing as a back-rower ... I'm looking forward to playing with Cam.

"I've been fortunate to play with some really good halves, Cooper Cronk being one of them, he kickstarted my career really.

"It's guys like Cooper who make me look better than I am so I am forever grateful to him.

"For me, it's just knowing my role and making sure I'm there at the right times."

Kaufusi had a solid if not spectacular debut campaign last year and believes he can offer more this year as he prepares to mark-up against NSW powerhouse Tyson Frizell.

"I was always happy to get the opportunity last year but now it's a chance to build on that. I want to bloody win the series," he said.

"It will be a big battle (with Frizell), I will have my hands full and we'll see who comes out on top."

News Corp Australia


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