Dolphins’ link to State of Origin remains

Published 2:01pm 3 June 2022

Dolphins’ link to State of Origin remains
Words by Kylie Knight

From the very first State of Origin in 1980, when Artie Beetson captained the Maroons’ side, there have been dozens of players with links to the Dolphins.

The proud tradition continues with seven links to Wednesday night’s Maroons and Blues squads – even Maroons’ coach Billy Slater has a Dolphins’ link.

Dolphins’ link to State of Origin remains
Daly Cherry-Evans playing U8s at Dolphins (front row, 5th from left)

Daly Cherry-Evans (Captain and half-back), Dolphins junior

The Manly Warringah Sea Eagles half-back and captain will lead the Queensland Maroons for the fourth consecutive series.

Cherry-Evans has been the captain since 2019, led Queensland to a 2-1series win in 2020, and has played 16 games for Queensland since his debut in 2013.

He played for the Dolphins from under-7s to under-11s, before moving to Mackay.

Cherry-Evans returned to complete Year 12 at Redcliffe State High School, playing for the school team and chasing his rugby league dream.

His father and grandfather both played first grade for the Redcliffe Dolphins.

“It’s the place where it all began for me. I was born in Redcliffe Hospital, I come from a family with strong ties to rugby league – my dad played, all of my uncles played, some for Redcliffe,” Cherry-Evans told Moreton Daily earlier this year.

“I never really had a choice to play rugby league but luckily for me I did enjoy it and I haven’t looked back. At five years old, I got to play my first game at the Dolphins and I haven’t missed a season (of league) since.”

Dolphins Group CEO Tony Murphy says he has grown into a wonderful player and leader.

“He’s the epitome of a professional rugby league player. He conducts himself well. He’s one of those guys you’d love to have in your side. He’s a credit to his parents, Kellie and Troy. Troy played for us in the mid to late ’80s and his mum’s family, the Cherrys, are synonymous with the Redcliffe Club,” Murphy says.

“We wish him all the best, he’s a great leader for Queensland and a smart footballer.”

Dolphins’ link to State of Origin remains

Dane Gagai (centre), Dolphin #642

Gagai played juniors in Mackay and was part of the Redcliffe Dolphins’ side, during his time with the Brisbane Broncos in 2012, before moving to Newcastle later that year.

He debuted for Queensland in 2015 and he has played 19 Origin games since.

Dolphins Group CEO Tony Murphy says Gagai played in the centres for the club, displaying sought-after qualities.

“You could see he was going to a be a good player then. He was passionate and full-on about his football and encouraged the other players,” Murphy says.

“He made a big difference to our side in 2012. He was very good for us, like a lot of Mackay boys who come down and play for the Dolphins.”

Xavier Coates, winger

Xavier Coates played one game for the Dolphins in 2020, before the season was cancelled due to COVID-19, during his time at the Brisbane Broncos.

The 21-year-old winger went on to join the Melbourne Storm at the end of 2021. He has played five Origin games, making his debut in 2020.

Tony Murphy says Coates had impact in that one memorable game against the Sunshine Coast Falcons, which the Dolphins won 22-16.

“He came to us through the Broncos, scoring two tries in that game, then COVID got in the road. He’s a tall winger, that’s how he scored those tries,” he says.

Murphy is disappointed Coates did not line up for the Dolphins again.

“He’s got a 100 per cent record,” he says laughing, “he never lost a game while playing for Redcliffe”.

Kotoni Staggs (centre), Dolphin #743

The now 23-year-old, was part of the Redcliffe Dolphins’ Under-20s and Queensland Cup sides in 2018, before making his debut for the Brisbane Broncos the same year in round 11.

Staggs has recovered from an ACL injury, suffered in the last game of 2020 which sidelined him for much of the 2021 season. He will make his debut for the Blues on Wednesday night.

Tony Murphy says he excelled in the Under-20s squad and was moved to the top grade when he played at the Dolphins in 2018.

“You could tell he was going to be something very, very special. Opposition players couldn’t handle him – he was too strong,” Murphy says.

“He played well for us and was a shy, respectful lad.”

Felise Kaufusi (second row), Dolphin NRL player in 2023

The two-time NRL premiership winner and Melbourne Storm player has signed with Dolphins NRL side for 2023 season.

He has played 12 Origin matches for Queensland as well as representing Australia (four from 2017-18) and Tonga (three from 2015-17).

Kaufusi will join the Dolphins when pre-season training for the 2023 season kicks off in November

He was born in New Zealand but grew up in Bundaberg from the age of seven years before signing with North Queensland Cowboys under-20s side, the Northern Pride and then the Melbourne Storm where he debuted in 2015.

Tony Murphy says he’s a great signing.

“These boys come from the wonderful, professional club of the Melbourne Storm. That’s something that was in the back of our minds (in signing him),” Murphy says.

“He’s a product of that and he’s going to bring that to our club. He will be a mentor for the younger players and a good player for us.

“He will be so good for our club and we’re honoured that he signed with us. He took a leap of faith in joining us so early.”

Unexpected Dolphins’ links

Tony Murphy says hooker Harry Grant’s dad Paul played for the Dolphins as hooker in 1994, as did his half-back uncle Michael Wakeman.

“Paul was a good team man and a good man to have around the club. He was a fun bloke and a good player,” Murphy says.

“It’s in Harry’s breeding and both played for the Dolphins.”

And … debutant Maroons Coach Billy Slater’s dad, Ron (also known as Mophead Slater) played for the Dolphins in the ‘70s. 

Trevor Day, who played with Ron in Innisfail before he came to Redcliffe for one season, says he played at five-eighth or lock.

"He was a good player, very classy. He was a good ball runner and ball handler, he was dangerous," Day recalls.

"His son (Billy) is a bit of a chip off the old block, pretty smart with the game. I think he'll go well." 

Go the Maroons!!!

Game one is at Accor Stadium, Sydney, on Wednesday, June 8. Kick-off is at 8.10pm. It will be broadcast, free-to-air on Channel 9.

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