Young gun Isaiya Katoa has addressed a potential return to the foot of the mountains after the departure of Jarome Luai.

Touted as the 'Next Big Thing' in rugby league, the 19-year-old departed the Panthers to join The Dolphins, where he became a mainstay of the team, beating veterans Anthony Milford and Kodi Nikorima for the number six jersey.

Here, he managed 22 NRL first-grade games and showed plenty of promise in his rookie season with a high rugby league IQ, plenty of skill and game-changing moments.

Speaking to The Courier Mail, Katoa dispelled rumours that he would rejoin the Panthers after it was confirmed Jarome Luai will be exiting the club at the end of the season to join the Wests Tigers for the start of 2025.

He also declared that he wants to remain at the Dolphins past his current contract, which expires at the end of 2025 and makes him free to negotiate with rival clubs from November 1 this year.

“I've loved it at the Dolphins,” Katoa said.

“I had everything I needed at Penrith. I didn't have to move away from home. It was a massive decision to make but I think it's paid off.

“I've been able to come here and get a head start on my career learning under the best coach in Wayne Bennett. There's nothing you could want more as a young kid finishing school than to come into a professional environment and be coached by the best.

“There's never been any regrets. I still watch the Penrith boys and they've gone on to win three premierships in a row which is pretty incredible.

“But at the same time I'm loving the Dolphins, learning here and playing footy here. There was no regret from me, even with Penrith losing a lot of key players.

“I'm staying at the Dolphins and I love the Dolphins.”

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Growing up playing both rugby league and union, Katoa received offers from the NRL and Super Rugby before agreeing on a three-year deal with the Dolphins.

At the same time, the halfback was representing the Australian Schoolboys, leading Barker College to win the Combined Associated Schools premiership to claim the Henry Plume Shield.

While he insists there was no way he would ever close the door on a future in rugby union or representing the New Zealand All Blacks, Katoa has no plans to leave The Dolphins at this current stage and has made a home at Redcliffe with his family after relocating from the New South Wales.

Gearing up for the 2024 season, the playmaker is eager to deliver The Dolphins to their maiden finals series in what will likely be Mark Nicholls and captain Jesse Bromwich's last season in the NRL.

Regarded as one of the NRL's best young talents, Katoa revealed what it has been like since joining The Dolphins and the fans that come out every week to support them and relationship with Kristian Woolf - he will take over from Wayne Bennett from next season.

“I've loved the club ever since I've moved here. It's a great club and community, the fans are awesome,” he said.

“I've had a good relationship with ‘Woolfy' as an assistant coach at Dolphins and head coach with Tonga, but I know I have to earn his trust to continue after this year.

“If there's any chance of me staying at the Dolphins I'll be taking it. It's been an incredible year so far and I can't wait to see what we can do at the Dolphins.”