Dolphins NRL centre Brenko Lee says the side’s real test comes this Friday night when they travel to Newcastle to play the Knights (5pm kick-off).
He’s not underestimating the injury-ravaged home side and says the Dolphins will have to earn a win.
Lee’s comments, at training this morning, follow the Dolphins’ 20-14 win over the Canberra Raiders at Redcliffe on Saturday and historic round one win over the Roosters at Suncorp Stadium.
The Knights are coming off a 14-12 win over Wests Tigers in round two and a loss to the Warriors (20-12) in the opening round. They could also be missing a stack of players due to injury including skipper Kalyn Pongo and hooker Jayden Brailey.
Dolphins’ Hooker Jeremy Marshall-King has taken an early guilty plea on a dangerous contact charge against the Raiders’ Corey Horsburgh in Saturday’s win over Canberra and will miss the next two rounds.
This means he won’t play in Newcastle this Friday night or in the Battle For Brisbane against the Brisbane Broncos on March 24.
Tom Gilbert has accepted a grade one dangerous contact charge and a fine of $3000 for a tackle on Pasami Saulo. He is free to play against the Knights on Friday.
Lee said while Marshall-King was a big loss, he was looking forward to playing with Kodi Nikorima who will replace him. See the team list here
“He’s been unreal. His record speaks for itself. He’s a first-grader and he’s an international player. I think he’s going to be awesome there,” he said.
“We’re going to miss Jeremy a lot, he’s been unreal in the first two rounds, but in saying that Kodi is a like-for-like. He’s electric and probably one of the smartest blokes I’ve seen on the footy field for a while.”
Dream start to season
With two wins in the first two rounds, the Dolphins have taken the competition by storm.
“I guess, as a new club, we didn’t know how the season would start and couldn’t ask for a better way. The real challenge starts now, our first away trip. We’ll see how we go,” Lee said.
This weekend, the Dolphins go in as favourites against the injury-hit Knights but Lee said they would approach the game as they have the past two weeks.
“I guess it’s the same as what we’ve done for the first two games. There’s no expectation on us to win and there’s no expectation on us to do anything. We just want to play our brand of footy and keep doing what we’ve spoken about – doing consistently well at the little things,” he said.
“These are the hard things – it’s our first away game, everyone thinks we should win but, at the end of the day, it’s not that easy. You’ve got to earn the right to.
|“I think that second game really showed the type of team we want to be – that’s doing the little things right, the little effort areas.|
“That’s one thing we want to be known for, just competing until the end – whether we’re getting flogged or we’re winning by a big margin and the end of the day that effort doesn’t stop we just keep competing until the final whistle.”
So, has it been a concerted effort to prove the doubters wrong?
“I don’t think we want to prove anyone wrong. We just want to play the brand of footy we want to play and we want to play for each other. Once you start thinking about proving people wrong, you can go wrong pretty quickly,” Lee said.
“At the end of the day, we want to be known as a team that works hard and does the little things consistently. I think the first two games we had to do that really well to win. It was a great start.”
Lee is feeling good and confident after a couple of injury-plagued years and is happy with how the Dolphins are helping him manage his body.
“I think Wayne has been good at that. When you feel at bit niggly or a bit sore, he manages you really well to make sure that come game day, you’re at your best and can do your best for long periods. He’s a good man-manager and he knows how to get you right for a big game,” he said.
That was evident today when Lee left the training field early to put ice on his calf, which was a bit tight.
Enforcer Felise Kaufusi has sent fear through teams in the first two rounds with hard-hitting defence.
“I feel like he’s always been that tough defender but he’s made our right edge a lot easier to defend because no one wants to run there anymore,” Lee said.
“He’s flogging them in the first few minutes and that sets the tone. I’ve never really seen that side of him but I’m starting to like that side. I’m glad on playing on that edge and not against that edge.
“If he keeps doing that, I’m sure we’ll be fine and he’s protecting young Izzy Katoa there. I think that’s a big thing for him, making sure Izzy has his first year of NRL feeling comfortable. He’s doing that.
“It actually is inspiring. He’s always does it at the right points of the game when we need something. He’s a big moments player and he can change a game.”
Electric atmosphere at home
Lee said the atmosphere created by fans at Saturday’s game at Redcliffe’s Kayo Stadium had a big impact on the game. See our photo gallery here
“It was unreal. It made my hair stand up during the game, when they were giving that Dolphins chant,” he said.
“It was pouring down rain, it wasn’t good conditions, but they still turned out and they still filled the stadium. We were losing for long periods of that game, not one person left or not one person booed. They got us back into that contest and then got us over the line with that chant.”
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