SYDNEY, AUSTRALIA - SEPTEMBER 02: Dolphins coach Wayne Bennett smiles as he speaks to media during a NRL media opportunity at Rugby League Central on September 02, 2022 in Sydney, Australia. (Photo by Mark Metcalfe/Getty Images)

The Dolphins are reportedly battling to spend a minimum amount of the salary cap required for every team in the competition by the NRL.

The NRL's 17th team, who are preparing for their first game in the NRL against the Sydney Roosters during Round 1 in just over a month's time, have spent much of the last 12 months battling to sign talent.

While the Wayne Bennett-coached franchise has secured experienced campaigners in the forwards, led by Jesse Bromwich, Kenneath Bromwich and Felise Kaufusi out of the Melbourne Storm system, as well as luring Hamiso Tabuai-Fidow away from the final year of his Cowboys' contract at fullback, a majority of the side have not commanded marquee wages.

Players like Sean O'Sullivan, Edrick Lee, Brenko Lee, Euan Aitken, Jeremy Marshall-King and Tom Gilbert are all likely to be around the best 17 for the Dolphins, but won't be on big money.

The Daily Telegraph's Phil Rothfield told Sky Sports Radio's Big Sports Breakfast on Monday morning that it will be a problem, given all clubs are required to spend 95 per cent of their salary cap.

He suggested the Dolphins' current expenditure is closer to 75 per cent.

The Dolphins are an extraordinary story that I wanted to talk about, they are the 17th team, they are six weeks off their first game,” Rothfield said on the Big Sports Breakfast.

“But they still have a $2 million dollar chequebook, so they have only signed 27 players for this season, so everyone else is right on their cap and have just about decided their 30 man squads.

“But the problem they have got is, every NRL club has to spend 95 per cent of their cap, so at this stage they have only spent what, 75 per cent of it.”

Given a lack of superstar free agents available, Rothfield said it may be a case of forward-paying players to pave the way for a marquee recruit to make the switch in 2024.

“There are really no superstar players who are prepared to go there this year, unless someone in the next five weeks has a major falling out at a club and wants to go and join Wayne,” Rothfield said.

“What happens with this $2 million, if they can't sign any big names before the start of the season, what they will do to get to 95 per cent of the cap, is they will start prepaying current players for next year."