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NRL: Will Dolphins sink or swim?

The Dolphins embark on their inaugural NRL campaign in 2023 and all eyes will be on Wayne Bennett’s men to see how they do.

Avoiding the wooden spoon would have to be viewed as a successful first season as they are priced at 2.62 to suffer the most losses in the season ahead. However with super coach Wayne Bennett at the helm, who knows anything might be possible and a push for finals could happen.

They can be backed at 9.00 to play finals. Whatever happens, with Bennett back in the NRL there is never likely to be a dull moment and having the Dolphins in the comp can only be a good thing.

So with their opening game of the season against the Sydney Roosters fast approaching on Sunday, let’s take a closer look at the Dolphins heading into the new season.

Coach Wayne Bennett

Let’s start with a huge positive, the Dolphins will be lead by arguably the most successful coach in NRL history. Bennett knows how to bring success to a club having done so already with the Brisbane Broncos and South Sydney Rabbitohs.

He also pulled of a huge upset when guiding Queensland to State of Origin success against New South Wales when the odds were stacked against them.

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You would think the NRL’s new boys do not have enough quality players to make finals but Bennett has recruited some with vast experience and he will get the very best out of the hand he has been given. Bennett is also the master tactician and loves to play the mind games and get into the heads of the opposition.

All in all the Dolphins are in very safe hands. Bennett’s record down the years says it all and the Dolphins could not have a better coach at the helm as they attempt to establish themselves in the NRL.

With a couple of years and more recruitment under their belts the Dolphins will be aiming high under the leadership of the super coach.

The Dolphins squad

The NRL’s 17th club have managed to land some quality experienced players for the new season including the Bromwich brothers who have arrived from Melbourne Storm. However the problem could be there is not enough of them and if injuries start to bite then the Dolphins could be hit hard.

They also failed to recruit the big marquee signing they were after for 2023 with the likes of Kalyn Ponga, Cameron Munster and Harry Grant slipping through the net. However all is not lost as this week the Dolphins have pulled off a huge double coup for 2024 by snaring two top-class players from the Brisbane Broncos.

On Friday the Dolphins announced the signing of gun centre Herbie Farnworth on a three-year deal. They have since backed that up by announcing State of Origin forward Thomas Flegler has also agreed a four-year deal. The double capture is huge for the Dolphins and shows the pulling power that Bennett has.

The future looks bright but of course they have 2023 to get through first and it will be a challenge with the current roster. The Dolphins did recruit Anthony Milford but there have been suggestions the experienced playmaker may not even start against the Roosters.

There is talk that youngster Isaiya Katoa could get the nod when Bennett names his squad on Tuesday. The big bonus for the Dolphins is their strong forward pack, made up of experienced players that have done it on the biggest stage in State of Origin.

Key player

One of the key signings for Bennett was the capture of Sean O’Sullivan who arrived from the Penrith Panthers on a three-year deal. The playmaker made 11 appearances for the Panthers in 2022 and started the season when filling for the injured Nathan Cleary.

Opportunities were always going to be limited at the Panthers but now he gets his chance to shine with the Dolphins. And they will need him to shine as well, which does bring a certain amount of pressure. There is also a question mark over who will partner him in the halves and that combination will also be crucial.

Opening fixtures

If the Dolphins are to go well this season it is crucial they hit the ground running and get off to a solid start. However it does not get much harder than the Sydney Roosters for the opening game.

But at least there is no pressure, no-one will be expecting them to win. They also have home games against the Raiders and the Broncos. It goes without saying the latter will be spicy with the two teams now cross-town rivals.

The biggest games could come away from Redcliffe though with the Dolphins taking on two teams who could be around them on the ladder this season, Newcastle Knights and the Dragons.

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