Niu-look Tesi: Dolphins flyer sheds plenty of kilos to shape up for squeeze for positions out wide
Dolphins outside back positions are all but taken for NRL round one but versatile Tesi Niu has lost eight kilograms in the pre-season to give himself a red-hot crack at snaring one of them.
The 22-year-old former Brisbane flyer can play wing, centre or fullback but at this stage his best chance of forcing his way into the round-one team to play North Queensland is a wing berth.
“No positions are certified,” Niu said after training on Monday.
Coach Wayne Bennett could not have enunciated the situation better.
Bennett has headaches looming at the selection table, albeit good ones.
At this stage new recruits Jake Averillo, snared from Canterbury, and England international Herbie Farnworth, formerly with the Broncos, are specials to play in the centres where their electric speed will give the Dolphins strike.
Queensland whiz Hamiso Tabuai-Fidow will play No.1 and Dolphins 2023 player of the year Jamayne Isaako is written down in indelible ink on one wing.
The other wing spot is there for the taking.
Jack Bostock, a former NSW under-19 representative, has had a great pre-season and is a quality finisher.
Cult hero Valynce Te Whare, who has also trimmed down in the off-season, can play wing but is best as a centre.
Former Maroons winger Edrick Lee is back to full fitness after a disrupted 2023 and Robert Jennings is also on the books. Euan Aitken is another centre who can be relied upon.
The Dolphins have three trials for the coach to work out his best back five, starting with a clash against CQ Capras in Rockhampton on Saturday.
Off-contract Niu played 17 NRL games last year and 15 of them were as a winger. The Tonga international is set to be named in the side to play Capras and has shown Bennett he is serious about winning a starting spot and being retained beyond 2024.
“I’ve lost eight kilos and looked after my diet,” Niu said.
“It has been a tough pre-season, one of the toughest I’ve done, and with trials coming up this week I can’t wait.
“I’ve been training hard to get my craft right and get ready for this big season ahead.
“The good thing with the Dolphins this year is that we have a lot of depth and there are spots up for grabs.
“I will play anywhere … to get that round-one spot. I’ve been training both (centre and wing).”
Farnworth, who played left centre at the Broncos and made the Dally M team of the year in 2023, trained at right centre on Monday.