Mark Murray has played rugby league at the highest level, coached an NRL team and been a club administrator – he knows a thing or two about the game and firmly believes the time is right for the Dolphins to play on the national stage.
It is a view based on his 10 years as a player, coach and administrator at the club and how the Dolphins have grown to be a Queensland Cup powerhouse on and off the field since then.
“I think it’s the right time for the Dolphins because they have worked hard over the past few decades,” Murray says.
“They have diversified the business model, with the shopping centre and the fitness precinct, and they are in a very healthy financial position.
“From the television rights point of view, it’s the right time for the NRL. I’m a little concerned about the depth of players at the NRL level, if we’re putting in more teams … there’s one and they’re suggesting another down the track … (but) I think they’re doing it cautiously without diluting the talent pool too quickly. If you provide the opportunities, the kids will emerge.”
Murray played for the Dolphins from 1983-86, before an off-field eye injury ended his playing career.
But with 15 State of Origins and several Test matches under his belt, he was grateful for the moments the game had already given him.
He coached the Dolphins’ Colts in 1988 and 89 and the first-grade team in 1990, and was also an administrator.
“Off the back of that, I got the opportunity to go down and coach the Roosters with Jack Gibson as a side-kick. I’m very appreciative of the opportunities the Dolphins have given me over the years as a player, as a coach and then I came back here and ran the football club for three years,” Murray says.
He remembers the tough times, in the late 1980s, when the club struggled to pay its players and gave them the chance to leave.
“Not one player did, the club played out the season, and the administration found the money so the players got paid. To see it develop to what it is today, with the shopping centre and the health and fitness precinct, the stadium, it’s been a tremendous effort by those people in charge over that time,” Murray says.
“To see it culminate in an NRL franchise and a Dolphins team would be a tremendous achievement.”
He says the club’s history and the depth of former players still connected with it gave it the Dolphins’ bid weight, which was lacking in the other two bids.
“Redcliffe’s the type of club, if you’ve played for Redcliffe, you tend to stick around,” he says.
“I would think there would be a wave of support from former players right behind that franchise. When you don’t have any history and you form a new entity altogether, that’s what is lacking … that depth of ‘Old Boys’. You can see the Broncos have it now, but when they started, they wouldn’t have had that.”
Juniors in the Dolphins’ ranks such as Chloe Stanworth, 7, and Luke Green, 9, are also backing the bid and hope it will create a pathway for them to play on the big stage.
“I want the Dolphins to be in the NRL, so we can get more people playing and it’s more attractive,” Chloe from the Under 8s Starr team says.
Luke, from the Under 10s Bleakley team says if the Dolphins make it into the NRL: “more people can come and support the Dolphins and there will be a bigger population of Dolphins fans.”
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