SYDNEY, AUSTRALIA - JUNE 15: Joseph Manu of the Roosters evades the tackle of Morgan Harper of the Bulldogs during the round five NRL match between the Canterbury Bulldogs and the Sydney Roosters at Bankwest Stadium on June 15, 2020 in Sydney, Australia. (Photo by Mark Metcalfe/Getty Images)

The Dolphins were something of a surprise packet for much of their first season in the NRL before fading late, at one point being well in contention for a top-eight finish.

Wayne Bennett's side were widely tipped to be a bottom-four contender in their first season, and while they finished at the wrong end of the table, a mix of the lack of depth and injuries impacted them greatly.

2024 will see the arrivals of Herbie Farnworth and Thomas Flegler from the Brisbane Broncos which will help things in the right direction, but there are still additions needed for 2025.

With plenty of talent off-contract and the club to enter their second era in 2025 - that being the end of Wayne Bennett's coaching stint and the start of Kristian Woolf's, this shapes up as an incredibly important 12 months to build the team with key signings from elsewhere.

In this series, Zero Tackle are running the rule over each team's state of play for 2025, and the players they need to be targeting from the November 1 deadline when all players off-contract at the end of 2024 become available to negotiate.

Current squad for 2025
Jake Averillo, Jack Bostock, Kenneath Bromwich, Herbie Farnworth, Thomas Flegler, Tom Gilbert, Harrison Graham, Jamayne Isaako, Isaiya Katoa, Felise Kaufusi, Josh Kerr, Connelly Lemuelu, Jeremy Marshall-King, Sean O'Sullivan, Max Plath, Hamiso Tabuai-Fidow

Current best 17 for 2025
1. Hamiso Tabuai-Fidow
2. Jack Bostock
3. Herbie Farnworth
4. Jake Averillo
5. Jamayne Isaako
6. Isaiya Katoa
7. Sean O'Sullivan
8. Thomas Flegler
9. Jeremy Marshall-King
10. Josh Kerr
11. Kenneath Bromwich
12. Felise Kaufusi
13. Tom Gilbert
14. Harrison Graham
15. Max Plath
16. Connelly Lemuelu
17. No player signed.

Players off-contract at end of 2024
Euan Aitken, Jesse Bromwich, Robert Jennings (mutual option), Brenko Lee, Edrick Lee, Anthony Milford, Mark Nicholls, Kodi Nikorima, Tesi Niu, Ray Stone, Valynce Te Whare, Mason Teague (mutual option), Jarrod Wallace

Here are five players available to negotiate for 2025 from outside of the club the Dolphins could target for 2025 and beyond.

EVERY PLAYER OFF-CONTRACT AT THE END OF 2024

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1. Joseph Manu

The Dolphins have plenty of needs heading into 2025, but they need another genuine backline star to continue their push up the ladder from what was an impressive inaugural season.

The inclusion of Herbie Farnworth will go a long way to complement the already excellent season Hamiso Tabuai-Fidow put together in 2023, while continued improvement from Isaiya Katoa and Sean O'Sullivan in the halves will push the club to new heights.

Manu though would take things to a whole new level in the backline.

With the ability to play in the centres, at fullback, or even five-eighth, he would add plenty to a club like the Dolphins in versatility, but his talent is what would be the driving force.

With Tabuai-Fidow potentially shuffling into the centres and Manu at fullback, the backline would suddenly become elite, and one that could easily be part of a premiership-winning outfit.

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