Fans and players will enjoy a moment in history when the Redcliffe Dolphins play the curtain-raiser to new kids on the block - the Dolphins’ NRL side – in an afternoon of preseason trials at Redcliffe on Sunday.
Hostplus Cup Coach Ben Te’o chatted to Moreton Daily this week about what to expect this weekend and in the season ahead.
His side’s preseason trial will see them face-off against Norths Devils in a Grand Final rematch (kick-off at 3.30pm). The NRL team will take on the Gold Coast Titans (kick-off at 6.05pm)
Te’o has named a strong Hostplus Cup side, which is a blend of familiar faces and NRL train and trial and development players. See the team list here
It’s what fans can expect to see throughout the season and a clear sign the club is serious about its pathways program.
The Redcliffe Dolphins and Central Queensland Capras will act as feeder clubs and a contingent of players have trained with the extended NRL squad this summer.
Te’o says the squad is shaping up well and he’s pleased with how they have worked during preseason.
“We’ve had a great preseason, training with smaller numbers of players than what the club’s used to. We’ve had a lot of players doing train and trial with the NRL squad,” he says.
“It’s given a lot of young guys an opportunity.”
How will it work?
“There are a lot of younger players that are on train and trial and development contracts and lot will be based at Redcliffe,” Te’o explains.
“We’re going to have a real mix of full-time NRL players and part-time (Hostplus Cup) players. We’re in a good position.”
He says it’s great to be employed full-time as a coach working with the Hostplus Cup side and the NRL squad.
Te’o says he’s able to build relationships with players from both squads instead of being removed from the process and waiting to see which players he’s likely to get for the weekend on a Friday.
“For me, I just think it has been a fast rise, but natural progression. I feel I’m ready for this,” he says.
Te’o says last year was a great first season in coaching, with the Colts side, but he wants to be coaching men and is able to do this with the Hostplus Cup side and as an assistant coach to the NRL team.
“It feels right,” he says.
Has there been much change to the squad since last year?
“A lot of guys have come back. They had a good year, last year. Taking out the Warriors players that went back at the end of last year … anyone we wanted to keep, we’re keeping,” Te’o says.
“We’ve worked hard to re-sign the Grand Final team.”
Add to that the Dolphins’ NRL players who will come and go, and it’s going to be a great season.
The Redcliffe Dolphins have also picked up Albert Kelly (former Bronco) and George Fai (former Broncos and Brisbane Tigers player). They will both play this Sunday.
Workhorse and former Queensland State of Origin front rower Dunamis Lui will skipper the side this season, starting with the trial game this weekend.
He will be formally named as captain at the side’s season launch on March 9.
Te’o has been impressed by the commitment of his side during the preseason, particularly those juggling work and training.
“We started in November and they’ve worked hard. It’s a really small group, so I’ve gotten to know them well. They are really buying in,” he says.
Te’o says they’re bringing a level of professionalism which will grow the more they train and play with players from the extended NRL squad.
“My job is to mash them together and make a team out of them,” he explains.
They understand the club has changed and there are more opportunities available to them.
“It used to be the QCup at the top of the tree. We’re not the top of the tree anymore, we’re a pathway,” he says.
“There’s going to be a lot of changes throughout the year players coming up and down (through the team).
“We want our football to mirror what the NRL side’s philosophy is and when players come back, I want them to get good minutes.”
His goal is to prepare young players so they can make their debuts and play well.
Big year starts now
So, who are the Hostplus Cup players to watch this season?
“Ben King is in for a big year. He’s a local guy who has come through the grades,” Te’o says.
“Trai Fuller. If he has a good year, it will benefit all of us – NRL and Q Cup.”
Tickets are still on sale to Sunday’s afternoon of footy at Kayo Stadium, Redcliffe. Head to the website for details
GAME DAY DETAILS
Gates open: 3pm
Hostplus Cup: 3.30pm kick-off
Face painting and DJ: 4.15-6.15pm
NRL trial: 6.05pm kick-off
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