Kangaroos coach Mal Meninga has selected four debutants in his 17-man Australian team that is set to take on France on Friday night.
Kaufusi’s selection in the Kangaroos side is the success story of the year in Australian sport, showing that anything is possible with hard work and commitment.
Stepping up from averaging just 20 minutes a game in 2016, Kaufusi largely alleviated the departure of International forward Kevin Proctor in the Melbourne Storm avenging last year’s bitter grand final loss.
At the start of the season, the 25-year-old ripped in for a bumper pre-season that reaped huge rewards and respect of his teammates and hard-lined coach Craig Bellamy.
Kaufusi didn’t miss a single match and played the full 80 minutes in 21 of 30 matches on way to the Storm’s first premiership since 2012.
Even Bellamy was taken back by the sudden rise of his super trooper midway through this year.
“If someone said this time last year he’d be playing 80 minutes next year, I wouldn’t believe it at all. But he is and he’s playing a strong 80 minutes,” Bellamy said.
“I’m really pleased with what ‘Fuce’ is doing for us.”
Kaufusi’s selection for Australia is testament to not only his effort but also his selfless approach to simply aiming to just help his team.
“Being able for them (my teammates) to trust me doing the job out there for 80 minutes is huge considering I’ve only been averaging 20 minutes for the last couple of years, if that,” Kaufusi said.
“It’s hard enough playing 20 minutes but to play 80 minutes, it’s different. There are parts of the game you’re buggered but you’ve got to keep pushing through it.”
It’s an amazing rise from less than half a match to an Australian debut for Kaufusi – who is set for a merited big pay day when he hits the free agent market without a contract post 2018.
With Melbourne also losing another high-class forward in Tohu Harris, he will certainly be even more crucial to the team’s premiership defence.
In the meantime, Kaufusi is a true success story to celebrate in a sport that is said to bask in controversy and turmoil.