Bennett: ‘I’m happy where we’re at’

Published 1:00pm 23 June 2023

Bennett: ‘I’m happy where we’re at’
Words by Kylie Knight

Tomorrow’s Dolphins NRL Round 17 game against the Eels at Sunshine Coast Stadium will be a homecoming for a Dolphins junior and mark the return of some key players (3pm kick-off).

Head Coach Wayne Bennett gave us an insight into how the side was looking at training this morning. 

The Dolphins are coming off two heavy losses - 58-18 against the Sea Eagles (Round 15) and 30-8 against the Warriors (Round 14).

They had a bye last round to re-group and recover from niggling injuries.

Bennett is pleased with how they’re looking ahead of Saturday’s game.

|“I’m happy where we’re at. I think the week’s break was good for us, so all good,” he says.|

The team are now 10th on the ladder, while the Eels are eighth and coming off a 34-4 flogging of the Sea Eagles (Round 16).

Dolphins’ junior Josh Kerr will make his debut for the NRL side, which will be bolstered by the return of Felise Kaufusi who has served his three-game suspension.

Brenko Lee (leg) is out, with Valynce Te Whare to start in the centres again. Jeremy Marshall-King was named in the team earlier in the week but will sit this week out as he struggles to recover from a shoulder injury. He will be replaced by Harrison Graham who will make is Dolphins’ NRL debut.

Brayden McGrady will also debut, after scoring 10 tries in 11 appearances for the Redcliffe Dolphins. He’s been named on the wing in place of Tesi Niu who has been dropped and will line up for the Redcliffe Dolphins against the Wynnum Manly Seagulls at Kougari Oval on Sunday (2.10pm kick-off).

Bennett: ‘I’m happy where we’re at’

Welcome return

Hamiso Tabuai-Fidow will back up from Wednesday night’s State of Origin game, while Sean O’Sullivan’s name is on the team sheet for the first time since March.

Bennett says O’Sullivan is ready and won’t play ‘restricted minutes’.

|“We wouldn’t play him if we didn’t think he could perform but he’s just got to be careful. He’s three months behind everybody now, so he’s just got to make sure he doesn’t try to do too much out there … just do his job for us,” he says.|

“The only restriction he’s on is how he plays.

“If he doesn’t convince himself that he’s going to be the team by himself, he will be fine but if he tries to overplay it and thinks he can catch up three months of football in one afternoon it’s not going to be good for him or for us.

“I think he’ll be good and I’m pleased he’s back.”

O’Sullivan will partner with Kodi Nikorima, with Isaiya Katoa moved to the bench.

“Kodi’s been one of our main players in the last couple of months. He adds a lot to the team. Isaiya does as well, so he will go to the bench and get an opportunity from there,” Bennett says.

“He needs a bit of a rest. He’s young and he’s been up for a long time. He’s done a really good job for us, but it won’t hurt him the next month or two … (to be) in and out and playing off the bench.”

Anthony Milford and Jarrod Wallace remain sidelined due to suspension and will return in Round 19.

Bennett: ‘I’m happy where we’re at’

Realising lifelong dream

Kerr will make a lifelong dream come true when he plays NRL for the Dolphins after his mid-season switch from the Dragons.

Kerr began playing for the Redcliffe Dolphins at age 10 and played all the way through to the under-20s grade.

He was part of the Melbourne Storm National Youth Competition team and was named in the Queensland Under-20s team in 2016.

Kerr was forced to head to Sydney to realise his NRL aspirations, joining the Dragons ahead of the 2017 season and making his NRL debut in 2019.

In an interview with Dolphins Media, after his first training session with the Dolphins this week, Kerr said it felt good to be home.

|“I just remember playing here on a Saturday or Sunday morning as a junior … the feeling of being home is just something I can’t describe but it’s definitely a feeling,” he said.|

“The whole transfer business happened pretty quickly. I kinda found out late Saturday night what the actual plan was and then I was on a plane Sunday morning.”

The 27-year-old said the nerves he experienced before arriving were similar to the first day of school.

“Coming here and seeing all the boys and meeting them all … they’re all so welcoming. The culture here … everyone has a smile on their face, the coaches are all good … It was really relieving to come in and see all that. It actually made me feel like I was back home. I’m forever grateful for that,” he said.

“From the field to the gym, you can see the professionalism … all these older heads around … blokes that I looked up to when I was coming through the ranks too – guys like Jesse and Kenny, Felise. Just to be around them and to hopefully have some of their experience and wisdom rub off on me.”

He feels like the sky is the limit.

“I feel like under Wayne, he’s going to take me to a whole new level because I’ve got a great relationship with him. I’ve got some great players around me as well,” Kerr said.

“I just want to become the best footballer I can be and finish my career with no regrets at all. What a place to do than back here at the Dolphins.”

Bennett is pleased to have Kerr in the team and is keen to see what he can do on Saturday.

“It’s a big moment for Josh. I think the big moment for Josh is the fact that he’s a Redcliffe junior. It adds to what he’s going to bring here,” Bennett says.

|“Coming here means a lot to him. His family all live here still, so he’s come home. I’m looking forward to seeing him play.”|

So, what he will bring?

“A lot of rubbish talk, but the rest will be good,” Bennett says smiling.

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