Melbourne Storm rocked by tragic news in lead-up to NRL finals

·Sports Editor
·4-min read
Felise Kaufusi, pictured here in action for the Melbourne Storm against Canberra Raiders.
Felise Kaufusi in action for the Melbourne Storm against Canberra Raiders. (Photo by Mike Owen/Getty Images)

The Melbourne Storm will be without second-rower Felise Kaufusi for their clash against Penrith on Thursday night after the death of his father Taniela.

Kaufusi travelled to America last month after his father took ill and was hospitalised, missing a month of action for the Storm and State of Origin III for Queensland.

ALL OVER: Devastating twist for Tariq Sims after four-game ban

NOT HAPPY: Jaeman Salmon's family respond to Ricky Stuart claims

He is now set to travel back to the States after the devastating news of Taniela's death and won't play for the Storm on Thursday night.

"Everyone at Melbourne Storm is saddened to hear of the passing of Felise Kaufusi's father, Taniela on Saturday morning," the Storm said in a statement.

"Felise will miss Thursday's match against the Panthers to be with his family.

"Our thoughts are with the Kaufusi family during this time."

Fans sent their condolences to Kaufusi on social media.

Jahrome Hughes will also miss the clash with Penrith, but the Melbourne halfback could return the following round after he was cleared of a serious shoulder injury.

The Storm feared Hughes could be ruled out until the NRL finals or even for the season after he appeared to dislocate his shoulder in Friday night's 32-14 win over the Gold Coast.

He was unable to return for the second half, with coach Craig Bellamy saying he was in a lot of pain.

But scans on Saturday showed he had avoided any major damage, with the club saying he was likely to only be sidelined for one or two weeks - although will seek further diagnosis this week.

Bellamy will still be tossing up a new starting halfback to meet the runaway competition leaders in Penrith, with Cooper Johns or Tyran Wishart the likely contenders.

He will also contemplate whether he can leave Cameron Munster at fullback after the superstar collected a hat-trick of tries against the Titans.

Bellamy said Munster would likely return to the halves where he was more needed.

"I'm thinking it will be a one-off as we need him in the halves probably more than fullback," Bellamy said after the win.

"We all know what he can do when he gets some space and he likes playing there, to be honest, but I think with Hughesy's injury we might need him in the halves."

Felise Kaufusi, pictured here in action for the Melbourne Storm.
Felise Kaufusi in action for the Melbourne Storm. (Photo by Jason McCawley/Getty Images)

Panthers missing stars for clash with Storm

Penrith's depth will also be tested before the NRL finals with front-row leader James Fisher-Harris copping a two-game ban.

Already without star halves Nathan Cleary (suspended) and Jarome Luai (injured), the ladder-leading premiers will now be without their most powerful forward for the next fortnight.

Fisher-Harris was on Sunday handed a grade-three careless high tackle charge for a high shot on Canberra's Ryan Sutton that ended the Raider's night after he failed a HIA.

The Kiwi international accepted a two-game ban with an early guilty plea, which could have extended to three matches if he elected to fight it and lost at the judiciary.

It came after Penrith went one step closer to wrapping up the minor premiership with their 26-6 win over the Raiders, sitting well clear of North Queensland in second.

with AAP

Click here to sign up to our newsletter for all the latest and breaking stories from Australia and around the world.