After much speculation, the Dolphins have named 'super coach' Wayne Bennett as the club's inaugural NRL Head Coach at a press conference this morning. His focus is on building a strong roster and team culture.
Bennett will start in the role immediately, allowing the Dolphins to build a successful playing roster and off-field team to prepare for the club's debut in the NRL in 2023. The club can start negotiating with off-contract players from November 1, 2021.
The Dolphins and Bennett have signed a four-year deal. It comes after several meetings to discuss the club’s plan and philosophy in building a team from the ground up.
“I feel very privileged actually. At the start of this season I had no idea this would happen, none at all whatsoever. It’s been quite a journey. I’m pleased to be back in Brisbane, I’m pleased to be here,” Bennett says.
“I just wanted to make sure we’re going to be compatible … because I can’t make it work by myself. We are on the same page.
“This is an established club and I recognise that and it’s my job to come in and work within that framework. When we started in 1988 at the Broncos it was different. We had no club, we had no ground, we had virtually nothing. It’s a wonderful facility here, extremely well-run, very successful so it’s a different context. The job’s still the same but a different context.”
Bennett says he hasn’t yet identified the coaching team he wants around him, but says it is important to get it right.
“I’m kind of sitting back at the moment. We’ve got 12 months’ grace there but our plan is to get someone to take my place when retirement comes up as we’ve just done at South Sydney … it works and it’s in the best interests of everyone that we move in that direction,” he says.
When asked which players he has in mind, he’s quick to answer.
“Anybody that plays rugby league,” he says with a smile.
“You’ve got a $9.5 million salary cap and you know you’ve got to get some marquee players, so that will be our priority to get those and build the other players around them.
“One of the differences here in this situation .., in 88 there were a lot of State of Origin players that were playing in Brisbane club football and a number from this club that came to the Broncos. We don’t have that luxury this time, they’re all playing in the NRL now, so we’ve got to work through that and come up with the best roster we can.”
Being part of a foundation team, under Bennett will no doubt lure some of the game’s best but Bennett says there are other reasons they would want to play at the Dolphins.
“I want good players to come and feel comfortable here but there’s more than just me that will bring them here and that’s the concept I’ll be buying into and I want everyone else to be buying into. This is a wonderful club, great area and it’s not about one person,” he says.
Bennett will be looking for players who can create a strong culture at the club, over talent.
“The talent will come, we’ll grow the talent, we’ll find the talent but it’s who we are and what we are and what we stand for that’s the important thing within clubs,” he says.
Key to that is tapping into the talent already rising up through the Dolphins system from juniors all the way to the NRL
“That’s all part of it and they’re doing that here already. We can do it better and we want to do that. My dream is to have them coming here as six-year-olds and play NRL. I really mean that. I can’t think of anything more exciting for a young player that know now that he can play at the Redcliffe Dolphins, come through the system and play first grade,” Bennett says.
“Clubs in Sydney do that and there were seven or eight at Souths and they make your club, they make your team because they’ve got the love for the place, they want to be part of it and there’s nothing greater for them to play in front of their parents and friends and they’ve done that since they were six years of age.
“There’s been some wonderful players come through. I remember Brent Tate at the Broncos … I think he started here at six. A kid in the future in Brent Tate’s category won’t have to go anywhere else now. He can stay here. That’s the thing I want to be really strong with is to make sure we don’t let our talent leave us.”
“Well, I’ve bought a couple of houses here already,” he jokes.
“I’m just not sure which one I’m going to move to but Bob (Jones) will give me a couple of references I have no doubt.”
Dolphins Group Chairman Bob Jones says it is a monumental day and Bennett reflects the qualities and culture the Dolphins have strived for throughout their history.
“We have a proud history and we’ve had some wonderful coaches over a very long time and we’re here today to announce we’ve signed – arguably if he’s not the best coach of all-time, he’d be in the top handful I would think,” Jones says.
“We’re really excited about it and excited about Wayne’s plans for the future and we couldn’t be more delighted.”
Dolphins Group CEO Tony Murphy says another key to attracting a coach of Bennett’s calibre was the elite facilities the Dolphins have at Moreton Daily Stadium, as well as a sound financial model.
“Wayne has been hugely impressed by what we have to offer and our plans for the future of the Dolphins NRL club and organisation at Redcliffe,” Murphy said.
Newly-appointed Dolphins NRL CEO Terry Reader says he’s keen to join forces with Bennett again after previously working together at the Brisbane Broncos.
“Time and time again, he just gets the best out of players no matter what point they are in their career. He has unique understanding of the game and what it takes to motivate and help players reach their full potential,” Reader says.
During the press conference it was also revealed with the Redcliffe Dolphins’ Intrust Super Cup Head Coach Adam Mogg has stepped down in a move the leadership team says is not connected to today's announcement.
“Adam has been an incredible servant to the Redcliffe Dolphins Club and his time as head coach of the club has been one of the most successful in the club’s history. We would not be in the position we are now without him,” Jones says.
Mogg has spent six seasons at the helm, taking the side to the finals every year during his tenure and coaching the likes of Kotoni Staggs, Jake Turpin, Toby Rudolph, Matt Lodge and Anthony Cherrington.
Achievements include: two ISC Grand Final appearances (2016, 2018); minor premiers (2016, 2018), two club championships (2016, 2017), 2018 ISC premiers and minor premiers, 2018 national championship runner up to Canterbury Bulldogs.
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