Dolphins’ lock Ray Stone looked good at preseason training this morning and says he’s confident of playing in the club’s historic first game in round one after recovering from an ACL tear.
The 25-year-old is still in the rehabilitation phase of training and says the coaching staff are looking after him.
“I should be pretty much back to doing everything about January, so it gives me that extra couple of months to get properly fit again. Round one is definitely the goal,” he says.
It follows a tough 12 months watching his former team Parramatta Eels make the Grand Final in 2022, going down to Penrith Panthers 28-12.
“I was definitely lucky I signed the contract (with the Dolphins in 2021) when I did. It was hard last year, especially … my goal last year was to win a premiership with Parra. To see them do how well they did, it was great seeing them doing that well it was definitely hard sitting on the sidelines,” he says.
There are many things that excite him about his move to the Dolphins and he’s looking forward to learning from Super Coach Wayne Bennett.
Their only conversation has been via Zoom and Stone says he couldn’t hear much.
“A lot of people have told me about him. I’ve heard a lot of good things about him. I haven’t heard anything bad about him. I’m definitely keen to see what all the hype is about,” he says.
“There’s a lot of things that excite me. It’s a completely new group of people, so it’s going to be a massive change. I was at Parra for six years, we had a pretty similar team every year. Especially having a new coach and new opportunity.”
How good does he think this team can be?
“I think we’ve actually got a really good roster, a lot of experience which will definitely help. There’s a lot of people, they know how to play big games. That’s something I probably need to draw from them, being able to play in those big games,” Stone says.
“I think the experience we’ve got in this team, across the board, it’s definitely a good roster. I don’t get too far ahead of myself, but we can definitely do some damage.”
He believes Anthony Milford, whose confidence is up after strong performances at the World Cup, could be key.
“It’s the same with anyone. If their confidence is up, they’re going to do well. If he can bring that confidence into the games, it’s definitely going to go a long way for us,” Stone says.
“I used to watch him play a lot, growing up. I think I was still in high school when he was killing it. Having someone like him, it’s exciting for sure.”
Embracing the peninsula lifestyle
Stone and his family have moved to the Redcliffe peninsula and he’s enjoying riding his bike to training – a huge change to Sydney traffic.
“I’m only around the corner. I’m literally able to walk, but I’m too lazy to walk. It’s definitely different. I was living about an hour from training back in Sydney. It definitely helps, living close to training,” he says
“The kids have started daycare. They’re still adjusting but I think … another couple of weeks and they’ll be settled in. They love it on the weekends when they get to go to the beach.
So, what is he enjoying about living in the region?
“Everything. It’s very relaxing. Everything’s a lot closer than what I’m used to. I get to spend a lot more time actually doing stuff instead of just sitting in the car. Everything’s been positive, so I’m definitely enjoying it,” he says.
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