The first wave of Dolphins NRL players were put through their paces during the club’s inaugural training session this morning, in front of a full media contingent.
Head Coach Wayne Bennett plans to get them fit while he waits for the full squad to arrive in January and is already fending off questions about when the club can expect its first premiership.
This morning’s squad of about 16 players had a light session, stretching and running laps of the training field in a crisp new training kit.
It was their first chance to impress the coaching team and they will be the focus until another wave of players arrives next month and the full contingent arrives on January 5.
Head Coach Wayne Bennett says it’s not an ideal start but, with players at the World Cup at present, it could not be avoided.
Focus on fitness
“(It’s) Pretty chaotic. We really can’t do a great deal except get some guys fit and (do a) little bit of work with them but nothing is going to happen here as a club until January when everybody arrives,” he says.
“It is what it is. If I want to have a sook about it and carry on, it won’t help anybody. The bottom line is that’s when we’re going to start on January 5. We’ll make the best of an eight-week period to be ready to play the first game.”
Dolphins NRL CEO Terry Reader says today is a moment in the club’s history – the first of many this season including the first game, the first training session with the full squad and first draw announcement (hopefully this week).
“That sets in realities for people when they see where we’re playing, who we’re playing and can start locking into the calendar and get excited about what the Dolphins are going to be this year,” he says.
“People have joked about having marquee signings, our first-ever signing was the coach and he is a marquee signing. What Wayne has done for our club, not just in terms of what we do in putting this squad together, but in terms of in the regions and what we’ve done in game development, our academies … all the way through to Brisbane ... making sure we’ve got the underneath working right because the top doesn’t work if we don’t have the bottom in place.”
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So, are the Dolphins playing the Roosters in Round 1?
“I think reading reports in the newspaper that seem to have come from maybe the NRL … I think that’s really exciting for our club if we do open with the Roosters, which I think … if what I read is right … on a Sunday afternoon in round one. It would be a wonderful occasion for the club and we get to honour a great of our club and of the game (Arthur Beetson),” Reader says.
“He wrote in his autobiography, that it was his dream to see the Dolphins play the Roosters in the NRL and hopefully we get to bring that to life for his family in round one.”
Bennett agrees it would be a fitting way to honour Beetson and the club’s history.
In making Dolphins’ history, he’ll be looking at his own in setting up the Broncos.
“Why don’t you have a look at the script of what we did with the Broncos in '88 because there won’t be much difference in what we’re going to do here,” he quips.
Does that mean he expects a premiership within five years?
“That’s all cheap talk. The bottom line is to start the competition with everyone else next year and have a plan in place of how we want to be perceived and it will be a matter of the young men buying into that. If it takes five years, or 10 years who knows. If you get the process right, you’re closer to success.”
And he’s hoping for a strong rivalry between his old and new clubs.
“It’s hard to imagine it won’t be. That will be just natural, it will be driven by the fans. I hope it is, I want it to be that way. It creates great interest,” Bennett says.
During today’s press conference, the Dolphins also announced a partnership with North Harbour, whose branding will appear on the coaching team’s collars.
North Harbour Project Director Bryan Finney, a long-time supporter of the Dolphins, says the partnership is the culmination of two great entities joining forces to grow the Moreton Bay Region.
“To have Wayne Bennett, the greatest coach the sport has ever seen, wear the North Harbour brand on his uniform is an agreement we’re very proud of,” Mr Finney says.
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