The Dolphins have been dealt a blow in the lead-up to their maiden NRL match, losing middle forward Herman Ese'ese to injury before the clash.

A former Bulldog, Bronco, Knight and Titan, Ese'ese has put in a solid off-season under Wayne Bennett, winning a bench spot for the club's first ever game, a Suncorp Stadium belter against the Sydney Roosters, honouring the late great Arthur Beetson.

Despite being named in the No. 14 jersey for match, Ese'ese has been ruled out of the clash with a pec injury according Triple M journalist Ben Dobbin in a massive blow for the NRL's newest clubs.

Coming off the back of lacklustre maiden recruitment drive, the Dolphins need every hand on deck not just to defeat the Sydney Roosters on Sunday, but to enjoy a respectable first season in the NRL.

Centre-turned-back-rower Connelly Lemuelu is expected to come into the side after initially being named amongst the reserves for the match.

Lemuelu adds some youth, aged just 24, practically a rookie in comparison to the five forwards aged 30 or older in the Dolphins' forward pack.

The club is yet to confirm the severity of Ese'ese's pec injury, with question marks raised over his short-term availability.

The Dolphins have a tough first task in the Roosters, however the tricolours are depleted for the clash, missing superstars Jared Waerea-Hargreaves, Joseph Manu, Angus Crichton and Sitili Tupouniua for the clash.