Dolphins’ ties to Origin remain strong

Published 5:00am 29 May 2023

Dolphins’ ties to Origin remain strong
Words by Kylie Knight

The Dolphins’ connection with State of Origin goes back to the first game and the late, great Arthur Beetson.

This year, the ties remain strong with two current players, one former player and a future star in the Maroons side. There are also another couple of links you might not know about.

We take a look at the team ahead of game one in Adelaide on Wednesday night (May 31) …

Dolphins’ ties to Origin remain strong

Hamiso Tabuai-Fidow – The Hammer (centre)

In a move that surprised some fans and commentators, the Dolphins’ NRL fullback Hamiso Tabuai-Fidow, aka The Hammer, was chosen over seasoned Maroons campaigner Dane Gagai for a centre position for game one.

The Hammer, 21, debuted for Queensland in the final game of the 2021 series and has had an electrifying start to the 2023 season with the Dolphins after making the move from the North Queensland Cowboys.

He’s been playing so well for the Dolphins that his contact was extended to five years in April. He will be with the club until at least the end of the 2027 season.

In explaining the decision, Maroons Coach Billy Slater said he believed it was the best decision for the team.

“Hamiso’s been playing great, too, sometimes we can focus on who’s not there. Now, it’s time to focus on who is there and building a game plan, having our players at their best,” Slater said.

“He’s been playing really well. Last year, he was in and out of the Cowboys’ side. This year, he’s played every game for the Dolphins and done a great job. (He) puts himself in the contest. I love his involvement. He’s got some great strengths in his game … we want to bring them out.

“I’m looking forward to The Hammer getting another opportunity.”

Dolphins NRL Head Coach Wayne Bennett agreed the time had come for Tabuai-Fidow.

“Dane (Gagai) has been a wonderful, wonderful player for Queensland but he’s at the end of his career. We’re short of centres … if it wasn’t this year for Hamiso, it had to be next year,” Bennett said.

Dolphins’ ties to Origin remain strong

Tom Gilbert (second row)

The Dolphins’ NRL prop and workhorse was ‘made for Origin’, according to his coach Wayne Bennett.

“He’s fearless. He doesn’t care, he sacrifices himself for the team. They’re pretty unique those blokes,” he said.

“If I was Queensland coach, Tom Gilbert would be the first half a dozen guys picked for me.”

No doubt these qualities also grabbed the attention of Maroons Coach Billy Slater.

“Tom Gilbert … was fantastic last year, he’s been great for the Dolphins,” he said when he announced the team.

The former North Queensland Cowboys player, 22, signed a three-year deal with the Dolphins in April 2022.

He has been a workhorse at training and on the playing field, having a big impact on the players around him.

Gilbert plans to work hard, do his job and put Queensland first.

“I got my chance last year and I got to learn what it’s like playing for Queensland. The thing I’ve learned probably about Wayne is he’s quite similar (to Origin coaching) … he’s part of the fabric of Queensland … the way he builds some of our forwards’ games is similar to how Queensland wants to play. I think that’s definitely helped me get my spot back here,” he said last week.

Dolphins’ ties to Origin remain strong

Daly Cherry-Evans (Captain and halfback), Dolphins junior

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

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 last 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.”

Thomas Flegler (Prop)

Front rower Tom Flegler has scored an Origin recall and will play his first match for the Maroons since making his debut in the final game of the 2021 series.

The current Brisbane Broncos player, 23, has signed with the Dolphins and will join the squad in 2024 on a four-year deal.

Slater said Flegler had earned his Maroons jersey.

“Tom’s played one Origin before and did a great job … talking about earning that opportunity … he was in all three camps last year and didn’t get an opportunity to play,” Slater said when announcing the team.

“I think he’s a better player this year and looking forward to seeing him out there in Maroon.”

Unexpected Dolphins’ links

Dolphins Group CEO Tony Murphy said Harry Grant’s dad Paul played for the Dolphins as hooker in 1994, as did his halfback 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 said.

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

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

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