Woolf: “It’s great to finish on a positive like that”

Published 8:02pm 2 September 2023

Woolf: “It’s great to finish on a positive like that”
Words by Kylie Knight

The Dolphins NRL team finished their inaugural season in the same fashion they started – beating a more-fancied opponent in front of a big crowd at Suncorp Stadium.

See the photo gallery at the end of this story

The Dolphins took on third-placed Warriors in front of 35,438 people this afternoon, dominating possession (62 per cent) and leading 22-0 at halftime.

The Warriors ran in two tries in two minutes in the second half, but the Dolphins steadied and scored two more themselves to win the game 34-10.

Dolphins try scorers were Jack Bostock (7th minute), Sean O’Sullivan (23rd minute), Isaiya Katoa (25th minute), Jamayne Isaako (39th minute), Max Plath (65th minute) and Kenny Bromwich (78th minute).

Dolphins NRL Assistant Coach Kristian Woolf said it was a great way to finish the season on what was the club’s Thank You Members Round.

|“It’s great to finish on a positive like that. It was a great crowd today, a great occasion, beautiful weather for a good game of footy. It was really important we finished positively,” Woolf said.|

“We have worked really hard. We obviously started the year really well … didn’t finish as well as we would have liked and had a few results we probably could have made go our way at different times as well but to finish on a real positive like that and show a bit of character today. It’s a great message for everyone and a great lead into next year as well.”

The man who will take over as Head Coach, when Wayne Bennett’s tenure ends, concedes he would not have been happy with nine wins at the beginning of the season.

“Probably not, no. I think, as we showed earlier in the year, there’s a bit more to this footy team than what people probably expected. We had certainly seen that in the preseason, we’d seen the skill level that was there, we’d seen how hard blokes worked and we came together as a group,” Woolf said.

“I think that’s what we showed. We can be really proud of what we set up at the start of the year and the way we played … setting those foundations of who the Dolphins are.

“We did fall away a little bit. We can’t hide from that, but I think we can be really proud overall in terms of what we’ve done.”

Woolf: “It’s great to finish on a positive like that”

Positive signs

There’s plenty from today’s performance to build on for next season.

“I think that was as good if not better than we’ve defended, particularly over the back half of the year. We did let the two tries in really quickly … they were ones we probably could have stopped as well but for 70-odd minutes of the game I thought our defence was really good,” Woolf said.

“We left a couple of points out there as well … there’s a couple of tries we could have scored but didn’t quite get the last pass right. We’ve certainly shown all year that we can really play with the ball and play footy.

|“A couple of young blokes deserve a mention as well … Jack Bostock was outstanding. He’s shown he can handle this level of footy. Max Plath, Tesi Nui over the last few weeks, playing the centres, has been really good as well. There’s some real positive signs there.” |

Woolf: “It’s great to finish on a positive like that”

Outstanding season

The Dolphins’ Mr Reliable, Kodi Nikorima had another outstanding game directing his side’s attack which was free-flowing and exciting.

Woolf would not be drawn on whether Nikorima has cemented the No.6 position of if he will continue to move around where he is needed.

“We’ve got to have an offseason and have a preseason and figure that out. We’ve got a fair bit of time. I think over a majority of the year Kodi’s been really good. I think he’s been one of our most consistent performers,” Woolf said.

“With the ball in hand, he’s as good as anyone. He’s a very good attacking footballer. Today, he showed how tough he can defend as well.

“He’s a guy who can be really happy with what he’s produced through the year.”

So too, can NRL leading points scorer Jamayne Isaako.

“It’s a wonderful achievement for him. To do that in a side that’s not in the top eight makes it even more special. He’s outstanding to have on the team. We’re very lucky to have him.

“Whenever he gets the ball, he’s got the ability to do something and make something out of nothing. He doesn't miss too many times, when he gets that opportunity for a try.

“Since he’s come in, he’s shown a real professionalism. You can see what sort of athlete he is. He always trains well. He’s been really professional on and off the field.

“As soon as we gave him that opportunity on the wing through the trials and coming into round one, he showed that he needed to be there every week and started to grow in confidence with every game. He’s been one of our most consistent right through.”

His captain thinks he should expect a Test call-up.

“He’s been one of our best players all year. He can do it all. I think he should be expecting a call for sure. He’s been outstanding,” Jesse Bromwich said.

Woolf: “It’s great to finish on a positive like that”

Fitting season end

Bromwich is pleased with how his side played today.

“We went out there and wanted to play a certain way. We wanted to finish the year and show our fans … play for them and show them we really value their support,” Bromwich said.

“It’s been a huge year in terms of our fans really supporting us. We enjoyed every minute out there.

“Today we moved the ball around a lot. The boys seemed to be having fun out there.”

Bromwich found it difficult to pinpoint just one or two moments from the season to celebrate with his team this weekend.

“It’s really hard when you don’t make finals to really celebrate the season but we did do some really good things on reflection. Round one … coming out and playing a really good side and running out for the first time at Suncorp. I still remember, we had board members after the game in tears and how emotional that was. That had been one of the most emotional wins I had ever been a part of.

“The support. The whole Phins Up has really taken off. I think that has been a part of the Redcliffe area now. For our first year I think there were some really good moments.”

One that might make the highlight reel was Kenny Bromwich’s try this afternoon. It was a moment that had brother and captain Jesse laughing on the sideline.

“I just thought it was funny. I’m really happy for him but I thought it was funny. From where I was standing, I didn’t think he was going to get there. I was happy he got there in the end,” Jesse Bromwich said.

See photos from the game below (click through)

By Dominika Lis

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