‘It’s everything I thought it would be’

Published 2:00pm 28 November 2022

‘It’s everything I thought it would be’
Words by Kylie Knight

Dolphins NRL Assistant Coach Nathan Fien was impressed with what he saw at his first official training session with the squad this morning, and he’s excited about the team’s backline.

Fien joined Head Coach Wayne Bennett at this morning’s session in the searing heat at Redcliffe. The squad is not yet at full strength, with more players due next week and World Cup players expected to be there in January.

“I’m excited. There’s a lot of young players running around at the moment … we’ve still got the little carrot in the back of our head that we’ve got some really experienced players yet to come back. What I saw today … it’s everything I thought it would be at this level,” Fien said at a post-training press conference.

He jumped at the chance to assist Bennett alongside Tonga’s World Cup mentor and fellow Mount Isa-born assistant Kristian Woolf.

Fien and Bennett have shared past success, most notably the Dragons’ 2010 NRL Grand Final victory.

Fien also played State of Origin in 2001 under Bennett as the coach engineered a stunning series victory for Queensland, later representing New Zealand in 22 Tests after qualifying under residential rules while playing for the Warriors.

Now Fien, who has been coaching successfully in the Illawarra region for the past six years, will help Bennett plot the path of the Dolphins as they enter the NRL as the 17th team.

“It was an opportunity to further my coaching career, which is something I’ve always had in the back of my mind that I’d like to do,” Fien explained.

“What an opportunity to do it at the Dolphins. It’s a new club and an opportunity to insert a bit of DNA into the place and also tap into the long history that’s already here with the Redcliffe club that’s been so strong over a number of years.”

‘It’s everything I thought it would be’
Dolphins coach Wayne Bennett delighted to have signed Sean O'Sullivan.

The Bennett factor

So, what has he learnt from Bennett’s coaching style over the years and what is he expecting at the Dolphins?

“Wayne’s that ultimate man-manager, isn’t he?” Fien said.

“You don’t need me to stand up here and tell you what he brings to the table but, from my own personal point of view, he knew how to bring the best out in myself on the footy field … that’s for sure.

“It wasn’t always footy. He also understands what goes on outside. It’s a big wide world out there and people have got families and different bits and pieces … he just understands that.

“I’ve definitely moulded a lot of my coaching on what Wayne’s passed on to me, as a player, and hopefully I can have that impact on some of the boys here, especially some of those younger guys.

“Jack Bostock, who’s a young guy from the area I grew up in, he’s been signed here … seeing him run around is fantastic. Even a guy like Cody Hunter, who’s a Redcliffe boy through and through, hopefully I can have that same impact that Wayne’s had on me and many other players here at the Dolphins.”

How will Dolphins succeed?

Fien said all the teams today had the same focus on skills, but it came down to ‘who wanted it more’.

“It’s just believing in the cause. I think Wayne brings that to a team, brings it to a club and to an organisation,” he said.

With so much focus on creating a winning ‘DNA’ and culture, Fien said he hoped to inject some of the qualities that helped him perform as a player.

“It’s all about being competitive. As a player, I probably wasn’t the most skilful guy but when we got down and dirty or we crossed the stripe as you sort of say, it was game on,” he explained.

“I just wanted to try and be that player that everyone wanted to play with and if I can get a bit of that into our club, into our DNA, that will hold us in really good stead and keep us very competitive in a lot of matches.”

Fien is keen to move to the Redcliffe peninsula at some stage but is staying at the Gold Coast during the transition period and while he waits for his wife and children to join him. It sounds like he’s got at least one suburb in mind …

“Scarborough’s lovely … been down there … beautiful,” he said.

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