Bennett: ‘He’s in the 17. He’ll play’

Published 12:30pm 18 August 2023

Bennett: ‘He’s in the 17. He’ll play’
Words by Kylie Knight

Redcliffe Dolphins’ star fullback Trai Fuller will definitely make his NRL debut for the Dolphins’ NRL side tomorrow, with Head Coach Wayne Bennett declaring he will play.

“He’s in the 17. He’ll play,” Bennett said when asked if Fuller would be 18th man or part of the starting side.

“If you watch him play, you love to watch him play because of what he brings … the energy that he brings and the toughness that he brings.

“Anyone who’s watched state league and watched him play, I’m sure, will be looking forward to tomorrow with much anticipation to see him play NRL.”

The injury-ravaged side will be without five players who faced the Roosters last weekend including Jeremy Marshall-King (shoulder), Hamiso Tabuai-Fidow, Kenny Bromwich and Connelly Lemuelu (HIA) and Ray Stone (toe and suspension).

Felise Kaufusi was in doubt earlier in the week with a hamstring strain but trained on Wednesday and again today. He looks pretty certain to play.

See photos from training today at the end of the story.

In Bennett’s own assessment, last weekend’s 30-14 loss was a bad night but he’s looking to set the side up well for the 2024 season.

“Just to keep building on our game, get it better, get it more fine-tuned, get more confidence out of what we do. That’s what we’re aiming to do. We’re still pretty competitive. We were pretty good last week and we want that to remain the focus of what we do … the effort that we put it. We’ll get the other things better. It’s just a time thing,” Bennett explained.

|“We’re running out of time this year, but we’ll come back next year with more confidence than we started this year with.”|

Bennett: ‘He’s in the 17. He’ll play’

Tight group

Bennett agreed with captain Jesse Bromwich’s response to questions about team morale after last weekend’s game in which he said it wasn’t a problem.

“Everybody’s pretty keen to make the jersey proud and make our fans proud and certainly the coaching staff as well. They’re a really good bunch of guys and I’m really enjoying my time being the captain of the team,” Bromwich said at the post-game press conference.

“We’ve obviously got a few things to work on, but I think the attitude of the group, even though we’re giving up games we’re still working extremely hard and still buying into what the coaches are saying.”

Bennett said today: “He’s not making it up. That’s the way it is and that’s the way we intend to maintain it. It’s like a good cake, you’ve got to have a lot of different (quality) ingredients.”

The Dolphins’ squad has dealt with plenty of disruption this season due to injury and suspension as they try to find their rhythm as a new team.

There’s a large group of players stepping up to fill the gaps this week and Euan Aitken has been moved to the second row.

Bennett said there were no immediate plans to make it a permanent position change.

|“It’s been all over the place and that’s the way we’ve played at times. It does have an impact on you, but we’ll be better for it next year … more players coming … that’s the plan,” he said.|

An enjoyable aspect of the season has been working with 19-year-old Isaiya Katoa.

“He’s pleasing to manage. He’s an outstanding young man, actually, in all parts of his life,” he said.

And Bennett’s assessment of his potential will excite Dolphins’ fans.

“That he can do it a lot better … we’ve only scratched the surface,” he said.

As for round 25, Bennett is expecting a fired up Tigers side.

“They’re a bit like us. They’ve been playing better than people give them credit for the last couple of months. I expect a pretty tight game. We need to play well ourselves because if we don’t, they’ll certainly … they’ll turn up and they’ll play well,” he said.

The Dolphins play Wests Tigers at CommBank Stadium on Saturday (3pm kick-off).

The Dolphins are 14th on the ladder, while Wests currently hold the wooden spoon at 17th.

The last two games of the regular season will be tough for the Dolphins who face the Cowboys on August 25 and Warriors on September 2 (both at Suncorp Stadium).

Hostplus Cup

Meanwhile the Redcliffe Dolphins head to Cairns to face Northern Pride on Saturday at Barlow Park (kick-off 5.30pm) in round 22.

It follows a solid 32-26 win over Central Queensland Capras at Redcliffe last Sunday.

The Redcliffe Dolphins have won four games and drawn one in the past five weeks. They are fourth on the ladder behind Brisbane Tigers (third), Burleigh Bears (second) and Souths Logan Magpies (first). The Northern Pride is eighth.

Training photo gallery (click through)

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