Niu start for Dolphin under wise Woolf

Tesi Niu is targeting a starting NRL centre spot at the Dolphins as he reunites with his Tongan coach Kristian Woolf after securing a release from the Broncos.

New Dolphins signing Tesi Niu says playing under his Tonga national coach Kristian Woolf will help him regain confidence and consistency after a difficult 2022 season at the Brisbane Broncos.

Dolphins assistant coach Woolf gave Niu his international debut for Tonga in 2019, when he was just 18, in a 14-6 win over Great Britain.

Niu's beloved father Fanitesi Loto'aniu died at the start of last year, and Niu then missed a large chunk of the season with injury, playing just 10 NRL games for Brisbane at fullback.

With the Broncos signing Reece Walsh to play fullback in 2023, and Kotoni Staggs and Herbie Farnworth locked in as first choice centres, the 21-year-old Niu secured a release to join the Dolphins, where he has been training at centre.

"I just wanted a fresh start to my career. I felt I could get the best out of myself with Wayne (Bennett) and Woolfy," Niu told reporters after Dolphins training on Monday.

"I am really close with Woolfy. He gave me my debut for Tonga. I have worked with him a lot and it is good to be working with him again.

"It was a tough year (in 2022) ... but a new journey begins here.

"I am training at centre at the moment so I am trying to nail down what I need to be better there."

Woolf is helping him every step of the way in that quest.

"I love working with Tesi," Woolf told AAP.

"I first dealt with him when he was 17 and he played in a Nines tournament for Tonga. A couple of senior players came back raving about him and wanted him on tour so we took him over to New Zealand with the intention of him doing some training with us.

"We did some 13-v-13 one day and he carved our main team up, so we gave him his debut against Great Britain. He was great in that arena and helped us to a win when he hadn't even played first grade."

Woolf played Niu at fullback at the recent World Cup but Hamiso Tabuai-Fidow is slated to play there for the Dolphins. Woolf said Niu could shine equally as a centre despite playing most of his 32 NRL games for Brisbane at fullback.

"I think he is in the right place and we are going to see some good footy from him," he said

"I played him at fullback for Tonga and he did a very good job there. He knows that role well and us training him at centre at the moment just adds to his skills."