Ray Stone: ‘discipline is a big one for us’

Published 3:00pm 16 January 2024

Ray Stone: ‘discipline is a big one for us’
Words by Kylie Knight

Dolphins NRL hardman Ray Stone says the squad will need to manage their aggression and be more disciplined to be a better side in 2024.

Stone spoke to the media after tough training session in the heat at Redcliffe this morning, which left most players on their haunches. It followed an equally intense wrestling session yesterday at Redcliffe PCYC.

See the photo gallery at the end of this story.

“I’d say it (the intensity) definitely has gone up a notch. We’re trying to set pretty high standards and playing at high intensity … that’s when we play our best footy,” Stone said.

“That’s a big emphasis this preseason just trying to attack everything.”

He and his teammates have returned from the Christmas break in good shape, ready to put in the work for the season ahead.

“I think Euan Aitken, his fitness levels have gone up through the roof. All the boys have come back fit. Herbie’s come here, he’s fit; Tim Gilbert, he’s a nutcase so he’s always fit as running around like crazy; we’ve got Jamayne who’s fit as ... all the boys have come back in really good shape.

“It’s hard to see any standouts when everyone’s really raising the standards here. It’s good.”

In Stone’s view, the squad is already in a better position than they were at this stage of preseason training last year.

“We’re definitely ahead of where we were last year, but I think now we know what our standards are … it’s making sure we bring those standards and meet those standards every training session,” he said.

“We had a good start to last year, but we know we can do a lot better than that this year and that’s what we’re aiming for.”

It will be music to Head Coach Wayne Bennett’s ears, with the Super Coach promising supporters at last year’s presentation evening the team would be better in 2024.

Stone said he’s fitter than he was this time last year, when he was recovering from an ACL injury.

“This time I had shoulder surgery, so it’s another rehab trying to get that right and make sure I’m ready to go round one.

“It’s (feeling) good. The boys here, they’re really smart, so they help me out with all the strengthening programs, resting programs and stuff.

“I think I’m eyeing off that last trial (against the Warriors in Auckland). There’s no rush, but from where I’m going now I think I’ll be right to play for that.”

The shoulder injury is the latest in a string which have frustrated the 26-year-old’s career so far.

“They’re managing my load a bit here with some things just around my knees and that. I don’t know, I think my body’s just no good,” he said.

“It is what it is. I’ve had injuries, I’ve come back from all of them so as frustrating as they are, it’s all just part of the job.

“I’m feeling healthy at the moment, so for me it’s just doing what I can to stay healthy.”

Ray Stone: ‘discipline is a big one for us’

Respect from all quarters

Bennet has previously said he’d love a team of Ray Stones and the lock also has the respect and admiration of his teammates.

“I don’t think too much of it because I know if I get too far ahead of myself, I’ll start going backwards. It’s a bit of reputation I’ve got, so I’ve got to live up to that pretty much every week.

“It’s part of my job, so for me it’s just my job it’s what I’ve got to do to be in the team.”

So, what are the coach’s instructions when it comes to aggression on the field?

“Wayne doesn’t speak to me too much before a game. He just asks how I’m going, that’s about it. I don’t even know if I’ve got it right yet. It’s something I’m still working on,” Stone said.

“I’ll just keep taking advice or watching the older boys here, like Jesse and Kenny … they’ve been around for a long time … watching how they manage their aggression and try to learn off that.”

He conceded that his favourite part of the game was however still to ‘flatten blokes’.

“When Fus (Felice Kaufusi) got it right, we saw how much it changed the game in that first game and I think he got a few in the second game as well. When you can pull it off, it’s great. It’s just making sure we can pull it off and don’t get too carried away with it.

“We were the most suspended team last year … I think discipline is a big one for us this year. If we can get that right, we can definitely improve.”

See the photo gallery from training (click through)

Photos by Dominika Lis

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