When Wayne Bennett assembled his maiden Dolphins' roster, fans weren't sure if the veteran coach was recruiting for an NRL team or a nursing home.

'They're too old, 'they're just going to cash their last paycheques', 'they're past it'.

Bennett has heard it all. Every age-related quip, every doubt or piece of criticism, every backhanded compliment. Being doubted is nothing new for the 73-year-old.

The Brisbane Broncos are the prime example. They fired the coach at the end of 2018 to hire rookie Anthony Seibold, declaring the veteran was done. Finished.

Since then, he's coached a team to two preliminary finals and a grand final appearance, as well as establishing a new club.

It's a big part of why he doesn't care about what those outside his circle think. If he's going to be doubted anyway, why does it matter? The same goes for his recruits.

Stan's new documentary 'Dawn of the Dolphins' goes into depth regarding the set-up of the NRL's newest club, including the moment Bennett decided to chase Jesse Bromwich, Kenneath Bromwich and Felise Kaufusi in Melbourne.

Bennett, recruitment guru Peter O'Sullivan and CEO Terry Reader sat discussing their maiden roster, when O'Sullivan informed the coach that the trio were all without a deal in 2023.

“Are they all off in ‘22?,” he asked during the documentary.

“There's some upside and downside to that though… the downside is you'll get some backlash straight away [because of their age],” O'Sullivan responded.

But the doubters don't worry Bennett.

“Peter, we're going to get that anyway. I tell you, that's got a bit of appeal to me," Wayne fired back.

Queensland Maroons Training Session
GOLD COAST, AUSTRALIA - JUNE 06: Felise Kaufusi during a Queensland Maroons State of Origin training session at Sanctuary Cove on June 06, 2022 in Gold Coast, Australia. (Photo by Chris Hyde/Getty Images)

“They bring a lot of things, they bring a winning attitude. If you've got those three guys sitting there in the team you've got yourself a forward pack."

Peter O'Sullivan had his concerns.

“We have to be careful… Jesse is going to be 33 at that stage,” he said.

Bennett, though, isn't phased by the concern.

“That's ok,” Bennett responds.

“If we run Jesse out for 20 minutes I'm happy mate. Because he knows how to start a game and we've got a kid who will be the future running out after him. That sh*t works.

“If you buy Jesse for two years that's good value for us.

“Do not turn him away from that. I'm telling you, it's going to [help us]… I like it.”

His recruitment worked a treat on Sunday afternoon, with the Dolphins No. 1 Hamiso Tabuai-Fidow scoring their first try, and their first-ever signing Felise Kaufusi earned Man of the Match honours in his maiden match.

Bennett knows, regardless of age, how integral that experience is to not just winning games, but lifting the fringe first-graders and rookies standards as well.

“When you put players who may be average around good players, they just go to another level because all they have to worry about is their own game,” Bennett said.

Dolphins Training Session
BRISBANE, AUSTRALIA - JANUARY 24: Coach Wayne Bennett talks to his players during a Dolphins NRL training session at Kayo Stadium on January 24, 2023 in Brisbane, Australia. (Photo by Bradley Kanaris/Getty Images)

“We can develop that [average] player and that buys us time. That's my biggest worry… just the time factor.

“Everyone expects us to go well at the beginning but it's going to be a long journey if we haven't got quality players.

“That's my worry if we get too many young players here, we'll be overexposed. They'll last six games and go out the back door.”

The Dolphins finished the first round of the season sitting third on the ladder, and will look to continue their winning ways against Canberra this weekend, the club's first home game at Kayo Stadium.