Though they’ve come under both for their lack of a marquee signature and their efforts to secure one, NRL CEO Andrew Abdo says the NRL are “incredibly impressed” with the commercial and squad strength of the NRL’s newest club as they prepare to debut in 2023.

Abdo addressed the media beside Dolphins coach Wayne Bennett and chief executive Terry Reader, praising the club’s progress since the licence was awarded in October, 2021.

“We got an update and presentation from the leadership of the club and I am really impressed with the work they have done off-field as well as their plans for the long-term,” Abdo said.

“All of it is in alignment with the ambition for introducing a 17th team into the competition.

“This was always about growth (and) the acquisition of new fans and the development of new players across rugby league.”

As well as a sound strategy for the immediate future, Abdo said he was most impressed by the club’s long-term vision, including pathways, game development, community engagement and commercial initiatives.

“A key part of the presentation looked at how the club is tracking from a commercial sense, and the strong portfolio of sponsors the club has managed to secure. .

“There has been a huge take up from members which will hopefully translate into significant attendance across the stadiums the club has planned for their fixtures next year.

“The club is in incredible shape. It’s a strong business with strong assets.

“We’re incredibly impressed with the progress that has been made.”

Meanwhile Reader claimed the club’s early success has justified the decision to award the licence to Redcliffe.

“We’re very proud of the commercial program the club has built,” Reader said.

“There’s an appetite for rugby league here. There are a lot of corporate partners who haven’t been able to invest in rugby league because of the strength of the main side in Brisbane, which now has a major competitor.”

Bennett went on to admit that while recruitment has proved challenging, securing Kristian Woolf as an assistant and likely future NRL head coach leaves just a few missing pieces – with a focus on prolific outside backs.

“It hasn’t been perfect, but it was never going to be perfect,” Bennett said of the club’s recruitment efforts.

“We’re not going to be a perfect football team and we’ll have our moments – but we’re pretty close to where we want to be.

“Kristian (Woolf) has done his coaching apprenticeship which gives him the best chance as a head coach. I like his credentials.

“I don’t know him personally well, but he’ll be ready. I’ll handle a lot in the short term to let him come in to the group, but I’m confident he’ll get the job done and the club has backed him to take over (from me).”