‘We’ve just got to win for Wayne’

Published 3:41pm 3 May 2023

‘We’ve just got to win for Wayne’
Words by Kylie Knight

The Dolphins will be looking to win ‘no matter what’ this Saturday, not for Magic Round but for Wayne Bennett who will clock up 900 games as a first-grade coach.

That’s certainly the view of prop Herman Ese’ese who regards Bennett as much more than a coach.

“I speak on behalf of the team – he’s not just a coach, he’s a father figure. I think he’s got a massive impact on the team. He’s the greatest coach of all time. When he talks, we all listen,” Ese’ese said after training this morning.

“He’s been around for a long time now ... 900th game, that’s a remarkable milestone. Hopefully we can go out there and get the win for him.”

Ese’ese came to the Dolphins hoping Bennett would get the best out of him. The move is already reaping rewards for the 28-year-old and the club.

“I’ve been under Wayne before at Broncos. The thing with Wayne is he just lets me play my game. He’s not just a coach, he’s like a father figure to me. He always asks how I’m going. He doesn’t really talk about footy first up. I feel like I’m getting a lot of confidence and I feel like I’m back in the Broncs’ days,” Ese’ese explains.

When asked what the team needs to do to make Bennett happy this weekend, Ese’ese is quick to answer.

“Just get the win, no matter what. I think the last month, we’ve been struggling with our second half and our first half is something we need to work on. That’s what we worked hard on yesterday and today,” he says.

See the training photo gallery at the end of this story.

The team will be without Ray Stone, due to concussion protocols, and Ese’ese says the rest of the team will need to step up and share his workload, particularly in defence.

‘We’ve just got to win for Wayne’

Big Val is ready

Brenko Lee is under an injury cloud, with a final decision to be made on Friday if he will play or if Valynce Te Whare will take his place.

“He’s been killing in it (Hostplus) Cup. He’s been playing there in place of Brenko in case he doesn’t pull through. He’s ready to go,” Ese’ese says.

“He definitely looks like one of those centres who has been playing league for a while now. He’s a big boy. If he’s coming straight at you, you’ve got to get numbers in on him. He’s surprisingly quick, he’s probably one of the quickest in the team.”

The Dolphins take on the Sharks on Saturday (5.30pm kick off), on day two of Magic Round at Suncorp Stadium, but the hype around the occasion is not a factor for the team.

“We haven’t really spoken about Magic Round. We’ve just got another game to win. No matter where we play, we’ve just got to get the two points no matter what. More importantly we’ve just got to win for Wayne – 900 games,” Ese’ese says.

But it’s not something the Super Coach has mentioned to his players.

“He doesn’t brag about it. We found out in the media. He doesn’t pipe up about his milestones, I guess. That’s Wayne,” Ese’ese says.

Check out the photos from training (click through)

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