Cowboys frontrower Antonio Kaufusi at pre-season training.
Cowboys frontrower Antonio Kaufusi at pre-season training. Ron Burgin

Straight shooting cowboy

RUGBY LEAGUE: A defiant Antonio Kaufusi has pledged to turn around his indifferent form from 2009 and carry the North Queensland Cowboys to the NRL finals next season.

Taking a break from Billy Johnston’s gruelling off-season training with a short stay in Bundaberg, the former Brothers prop was frank about his performance during his first year in Townsville.

“It was a disappointing year all round. How the team finished the year and my own form was not the best,” he said yesterday.

“It was the first time I hadn’t been in the finals since I made the NRL so it wasn’t a good experience.”

The past year was one of high expectations for the North Queensland club.

The return of coach Neil Henry and recruitment of players such as Kaufusi had league commentators tipping the team for a top-four finish.

But those hopes were shattered as inconsistent form saw North Queensland finish the season in 12th position.

Kaufusi’s own inconsistencies saw the former State of Origin and Australian representative benched while the front row partnership of Shane Tronc and Matt Scott.

But that may change next year with the club allowing top bookend Tronc to leave the club and join the Wakefield Trinity Wildcats.

With rising Queensland prop Scott securing one of the front row positions the door is ajar for 25-year-old Kaufusi to step back into the starting line-up.

“Neil told me that the spot is open so I’ve got to take it with both arms,” he said.

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