Big names join Dolphins’ NRL squad

Published 11:39am 4 January 2023

Big names join Dolphins’ NRL squad
Words by Kylie Knight

World Cup stars Jesse and Kenny Bromwich, Felise Kaufusi, Anthony Milford and Connelly Lemuelu joined the Dolphins’ full squad for the first time today, one month out from their first trial game.

The five ‘newcomers’ were put through fitness testing to start their first day with the club, in the heat and humidity, on juniors' fields named after club legends this morning.

They then joined the full squad on the main training field, where they we welcomed by their teammates and coaching staff including Wayne Bennett who appeared pleased to finally have his team together.

See the photo gallery at the end of this story

The hard work starts now with the team’s first trial game just four weeks away, February 4, in Gladstone against the Central Queensland Capras.

“The lungs were on fire at the end there but it’s really good to be back. I’m really excited to be a part of the club … to finally get here. I’ve known I was going to move up here for a while … to actually turn up on day one, it’s really exciting,” Jesse Bromwich said during a post-training press conference.

The three-time premiership winning player, who played 500 games for the Melbourne Storm with his brother Kenny, has made the move north with his wife and four children.

The decision to make the change and be part of Dolphins’ history came after a Zoom meeting with Bennett, CEO Terry Reader and Recruitment Manager Peter O'Sullivan.

“We were just talking about footy and family and what it would be like if I was to come up here. It just made me really excited … and fired up to want to be a part of it,” Bromwich recalled.

“I hear a lot of stories about Wayne and how all the players really want to play for him. To be able to come up here and experience it myself, it was really enticing.

“I think it was more just a feeling I had after I spoke to him. I hadn’t felt like that for a little while and I knew it was time I needed a little change. Melbourne were really good to me and I really enjoyed my time there but I’m really looking forward to the next year.”

Leadership aspirations

There has been speculation Bromwich is in the mix to captain the inaugural team and he says it’s an opportunity he would relish.

“It would be a real honour. It’s something that I really want to work towards but the first goal for myself is to come up here and earn everybody’s respect first. I’ll be looking to do that over preseason. It would be a real honour to do that for this club and to be a part of history would be really nice,” he said when asked what it would mean to him.

So, what will he bring to the club from day one, today?

“I think experience first. I’m a bit later in my career now and have been lucky enough to have been around for a little while and seen some pretty good things and I just plan on bringing that up here ... just doing my best, the best way I can and try to bring these young fellas through,” he said.

“I think, when I look around, we’ve got a pretty good squad. Everyone’s really level-headed, everyone’s really working hard which for me is probably the best sign … really humble and willing to work really hard. I think everyone’s in awe of Wayne too. He’s got the group under control at the moment.

“I’ve only been here for one day but I’m just coming up here to hopefully bring experience, leadership and a work ethic.”

Adapting to life on the Redcliffe peninsula

“I’ve got four kids and a wife and a dog, so it took a about a month to really settle in. It’s been really nice up here. It’s a good change. I’m just really enjoying the lifestyle. It’s really relaxed living up here compared to the Melbourne lifestyle … it’s a bit more hustle and bustle,” Bromwich said.

“I found a little fishing spot where I’ve been taking my kids and been going and sitting up there in the arvos and hanging out. It’s been nice. It’s time for me to get back to work. I love my kids but I’m looking forward to coming back to work.”

Big names join Dolphins’ NRL squad

Brotherly bonds

Bromwich said he was grateful to have the opportunity to continue to play alongside his brother Kenny, who has also made the move from Melbourne.

“It’s a really special feeling to be able to play with him for our whole careers. We’ll remember these days for the rest of our lives. We’ve got kids of our own … to be able to grow up playing footy together and have our NRL careers together … I’m pretty sure our kids are never going to hear the end of it,” he said smiling.

“It just worked out. He asked me what I was doing and I told him. He’s my brother, I tell him everything. He asked me a few questions about how my chats went and what I really thought about this place. I was just open and honest with him. I said I was looking forward to being a part of a club’s history.

“Down in Melbourne, they often talk about what the inaugural team is to the club and the history they brought to the club. I’d love for us to be a part of something like that.

“Coming up here and working our butts off and really trying to earn the respect of the team and club is the only goal for me right now.”

His plan is to disregard outside noise from doubters who favour the club for the wooden spoon in their first year, and instead have a belief in what the squad is doing, the systems in place, the players and the coaching staff.

“The first and foremost goal of preseason is to get as fit as you can and as strong as you can, and to earn the trust of your teammates. Hopefully everyone else follows suit when they see a few people working hard. Hopefully, we win a lot of footy games this year,” he said.

Check out the photo gallery below

Photos by Dominika Lis

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