Melbourne forward Felise Kaufusi is believed to be considering his two-year option to remain with the Storm until the end of the 2022 season.
Contracted for the 2020 season, Kaufusi has the option to sign on for with the Storm for the 2021 and 2022 seasons.
The 27-year-old joined the Storm in 2014 after four years with the Cowboys, making his NRL debut with Melbourne in 2015. Kaufusi has was a part of the Storm’s 2017 NRL premiership and has represented both the Maroons and Australia.
“It is a bit of security and I can take those options up by April 30 I think it is. If I am happy there, and I am at the moment, I will keep going down that road,” Kaufusi told NRL.com.
“For me it will be all about where I can get the best footy out of myself and at the moment Melbourne is the place I can do that.
“I was with the North Queensland Cowboys in under 20s and was lucky enough to get a first-grade contract for one year. I wasn’t getting a start and the Melbourne Storm saw something in me. I didn’t get a start at the Storm straight away. I had to work hard for it.”
The Auckland-born back-rower was overlooked by the Cowboys in his final year with North Queensland and revealed he thrives when it comes to facing his former side.
“For sure. It was a kick in the old backside to work harder and put myself in the picture of being selected for first grade,” he said.
“It all adds up and gives me more motivation when we play against them. Every time we play the Cowboys I know I didn’t get my chance there so I give it a bit extra.”
Kaufusi is confident he can become the role model needed for a number of Storm youngsters including teenage prop Tino Fa’asuamaleaui and 21-year-old hooker Harry Grant.
“We have the leadership group and the emerging leaders and I am in the emerging leader group, but I feel pretty old to be honest,” Kaufusi said.
“There is a really young group between the ages of 18 and 24 coming through and in that sense I am a bit more of a leader and they look up to me a bit more.
“Tino is only 19 and we have rookies like Harry Grant who is just biding his time. Tino played for the Junior Kangaroos and was part of the Samoa side at the end of the year and he is only going to get better.
“Harry is such a quality player and what he did in Q-Cup this year shows good he is. In any other NRL team he would definitely find a spot because he is such a tough player, but he is behind the best so it is so tough for him.”
The man sitting in front of Grant, captain Cameron Smith, is reportedly set to return to training before the year’s end, with 2020 being his final year in the NRL. Smith is contracted until the end of the 2020 season, with Kaufusi noting his leadership will be key for the Storm’s premiership hopes.
“He is pretty tight-lipped and private about it. I know as much as you guys do but I am hoping and praying that when I get to training that he is there. Smithy is still the best player getting around and I believe he is the best player to have ever played,” Kaufusi said.
“I know I want him by my side when I get on the field. I think he will be there, but it is up to him.”
Kaufusi said the pain runs deep following their 2018 grand final loss and 2019 preliminary final loss to the Roosters, with the heartbreak a reason to motivate themselves next year.
“We were minor premiers this year but in that semi-final we lost to the Roosters on a night they were a better team. We had opportunities but couldn’t ice them off,” he said.
“It was a disappointing end to the year but I still think we have the side going forward to put ourselves in that picture again. I think we have to learn from our mistakes. Everyone that played in that grand final loss and semi-final loss will learn going forward.”