Dolphins NRL Head Coach Wayne Bennett hopes the former Melbourne Storm players in his team focus on the game plan and not proving a point to their former club when they face them tomorrow night at Suncorp Stadium (7.35pm kick-off).
Speaking to the media after training this morning, Bennett said he didn’t want former Storm players to feel more motivated to perform well this week.
See the photo gallery from training at the end of this story.
“I don’t think it will help them play well. They’ve been highly motivated since they’ve been here and they’ve done a great job so if they just do what they’ve been doing for us, that will be the best thing they can do,” he said.
“If they think they’ve got to do something above that, they might lose the direction I want them to play in. I just hope they respect the fact they’re playing for the Dolphins now and they’ve got nothing to prove to the Storm.”
The Super Coach said this week’s game would be a challenge.
“Melbourne are a quality team and have been for a long time so it is a challenge. We’re in good shape … we’ve got Jesse back … we’ve got two or three players still missing through injury but we’ve got a strong squad and our last performance was good so we can take that with us and do our best tomorrow night which is what we’ve been doing all season,” he said.
Mark Nicholls will be rested this week as he recovers from surgery on his thumb. Bennett said he was not keen to risk further injury by recalling him yet.
“If Jesse didn’t play, I probably would have (brought him back in). He’s thumb is fairly tender – they just took the screws out of it the other day,” he said.
“He would have played if I asked him to, but I just thought another week would help him. Origin is on our doorstep and we’ll be losing Origin players next week, so there will be an opportunity to bring him back in then.”
One player pumped to run out this week is Jarrod Wallace who will play is 200th NRL game and there’s no doubt his coach is proud of the prop’s achievement.
“I didn’t know who he was when I went to the Broncos in 2015 … they talked about a number of players but no one mentioned his name … I saw this big, overweight guy running around and I thought oooh, we need a big guy,” Bennett recalled grinning.
“From there on we’ve built a great relationship and he played a tremendous year for us in 2015, when we played in the Grand Final.
“When the Dolphins came into the competition, one of the first players I went after was Jarrod because I just like what he brings.
“Once you know his personality, he’s pretty easy to manage. He cares about the team and he cares about his teammates. He’s a real good bloke to have around and a very good football player with a lot of skills a lot of players don’t have.”
He says Wallace has been happy since arriving at the Dolphins and it’s reflected in how he’s playing.
“He’s a real pleasure. He’s the type of guy you need in teams because they bring a bit of life to the place,” Bennett said.
The Dolphins will have their first Hostplus Cup/NRL double-header at Suncorp Stadium tomorrow, a concept Bennett would like to see rolled out more regularly.
“I just don’t understand why the league just doesn’t do more of it. We should be playing double-headers anytime our NRL teams are playing at home because it gives everyone a look at the future,” he said.
“It’s great for those young players to have that opportunity to play in front of such a crowd. State league is a great concept, it works well, but I just think we can promote it better by putting on more double-headers.”
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Training photo gallery (click through)
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