NRL not worried by Dolphins' player misses

·2-min read

NRL chief executive Andrew Abdo says he holds no concerns that the competition's 17th team, the Dolphins, will struggle to be competitive in their first year of existence.

The Wayne Bennett-coached side is due to enter the NRL in 2023, but 10 months out from their first game they have yet to land a big name recruit to act as the face of their franchise.

The Redcliffe-based club has signed a number of experienced first-graders including Melbourne's Test trio of Kenny Bromwich, Jesse Bromwich and Felise Kaufusi, but have missed out on Jahrome Hughes and Kalyn Ponga.

Cameron Munster has become their most-sought after target but the Storm five-eighth remains contracted for 2023.

Unlike start-up franchises in rival codes, the NRL has not allowed the Dolphins dispensation to target contracted players.

The Dolphins are keeping a low profile as all 16 clubs descend on Suncorp Stadium for Magic Round, but did meet with the NRL on Wednesday.

"They are progressing really well and they have a plan," Abdo said.

"The contracting phase is always going to be something that is pretty dynamic as is managing a roster.

"But we've seen the plans in place and we're confident that they're going to be competitive.

"I think they're going to add another dynamic to the competition next year."

One of the criticisms to the Dolphins' entry has been a lack of lead-in time.

The last new team in the NRL, the Gold Coast Titans, were handed their licence nearly two years out from their first game.

The Dolphins have been given an 18-month run to create a 30-man roster, but the state of the transfer market with only a few big names off contract has limited their ability to make a splash.

Abdo said the potential introduction of an 18th team to create an even draw would be given a similar timeframe.

"I think the timeline works," he said.

"We're a long way off from thinking about whether we should move to 18 teams.

"Naturally, we're always looking at ways of being even more effective and efficient."

Meanwhile, Magic Round is set to remain in Brisbane for the next two years after Queensland Tourism Minister Stirling Hinchliffe upstaged the NRL by declaring the city had agreed terms to keep the event in the Sunshine State.

Abdo cautioned the deal had yet to be officially ratified but said "the Premier (Annastacia Palaszczuk) has given her endorsement for it, that's good enough for me".

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