The Dolphins long wait to form an NRL roster for the 2023 NRL season - their first in the competition - is continuing amid plenty of criticism of the newest kids on the block.
Despite just a handful of signings however, veteran coach Wayne Bennett has slapped down the notion that the club won’t be competitive in their first season.
All 16 clubs, as well as the Dolphins, have had the power to negotiate on contracts for 2023 since November 1, but more than two and a half months into the piece, the Dolphins have just four top 30 signings and two development players to show for it, while they have missed out on players they were rumoured to be chasing left, right and centre.
All of Brandon Smith, Apisai Koroisau, Reed Mahoney, Isaiah Papali’i, Clint Gutherson, Junior Paulo, Tino Fa’asuamaleaui, Patrick Carrigan and Christian Welch have either re-signed or picked a club not named the Dolphins in their own negotiations for 2023.
It has left the Redcliffe-based outfit with a list where only three players have first-grade experience in Melbourne Storm second-rower Felise Kaufusi, Brisbane Broncos winger Jamayne Isaako and Parramatta Eels hard-hitting forward Ray Stone, while youngster Valynce Te Whare has also been signed. They have also picked up Harrison Graham and Michael Roberts - younger brother of James - on development deals.
That has led to plenty of criticism of the club, however, Bennett told The Daily Telegraph that they will not be rushed into signings, and that if it takes 12 months to find the right player, then the veteran coach is more than happy with that result.
“We won’t be rushing to sign players just to sign players,” Bennett said.
“If we have to wait 12 months for the right player then we will wait. The long-term view is what’s important to me.
“Of course we want to be competitive from the start and I’m confident that will be the case.
“We’ve got world-class facilities and the club (Redcliffe) is 74 years old. We’ve got under-6s through to state league.
“We’ve got extremely good people right across the organisation. Everything is successful about the joint.
“If we can all just be patient, and let us do our jobs, then we will get the right players. The players will want to come here at the right time.
“We’re not going to fail on the last leg of the journey with this club with all the things they’ve got already going for them.”
The 72-year-old will be out to build a full squad of 30 by November, when the Dolphins inaugural playing group will be expected to converge on Redcliffe for their first pre-season.
A quick look at the NRL.com off contract list and I think Bennett can form a decent, competitive team in the next 12 months. There is an upside to holding the cards close to the chest, as clubs scramble to extend their current best, quality players are going to get squeezed out. The max exodus at Parra is a good example whereby they dumped huge money on their two props and Gutho but sacrificed some very talented up and comers. Arthur will get the punt by 2024 for these mistakes.
No one expects them to win a premiership in 2023 but by 2025 he will have set the club on a strong path as a destination club.
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