Wayne Bennett torched by NRL great over 'really bad' Dolphins farce

The rugby league icon has delivered a scathing assessment of the NRL's newest club.

Seen here, Wayne Bennett speaks to players at Dolphins training.
Wayne Bennett's recruitment at the Dolphins has been savaged by league great Scott Sattler. Pic: Getty

Master coach Wayne Bennett has come under fire in the lead-up to the new season, with league great Scott Sattler slamming the Dolphins' recruitment ahead of their inaugural NRL campaign. The seven-time premiership-winning coach has the unenviable task of building the league's newest club from scratch, and putting a competitive side out for the 2023 season.

Bennett has made a number of key signings across the park for the NRL newcomers, bringing premiership experience with him in the shape of former Melbourne Storm stalwarts Felise Kaufusi and brothers Jesse and Kenny Bromwich. Other exciting signings for the Dolphins include Hamiso Tabuai-Fidow, Anthony Milford, Tesi Niu and former Panthers halfback Sean O'Sullivan - who showed his class deputising for Nathan Cleary in 2022.

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The Dolphins coach did, however, fail to land that one big marquee player that many good judges feel the Redcliffe-based side needs to compete with the better teams in 2023. Bennett tried hard to get the signatures of star playmakers such as Cameron Munster, Kalyn Ponga and Reece Walsh, but all three chose to commit their futures elsewhere.

Sattler - who won a premiership with Penrith in 2003 - said the Dolphins really missed a trick by failing to land a genuine superstar in their inaugural season. The league great slammed Bennett and his recruitment team at the Dolphins, insisting it was imperative for the future success of the club to get stars on board who can help attract better players.

"There were some real marquee players on the market that they could have tried to entice," Sattler told SEN. "They didn't take a recruitment mindset going into getting the 17th (NRL) licence, they just spoke about how much money they had.

"But your first couple of years have got to be really important about future signings and bringing those marquee players to your club, so how you're seen from the outside from the first day is really important."

In a scathing assessment of the Dolphins' roster, Sattler described the club's recruitment as "some of the poorest" he's seen in rugby league. The tough-as-nails former lock said while Bennett's forward pack contains quality and experience, he can't see where the points are going to come from in a side lacking genuine star quality.

"I've got to say, the Dolphins' recruitment has been some of the poorest recruitment I've seen in rugby league," he said. "(It's) really, really bad recruitment, I mean, they've got great experienced forwards that are going to keep them in the battle defensively but where their points are going to come from, I don't know.

"A lot of their players, I mean if you were looking for positions and to sign players, there wouldn't be many players from the Redcliffe Dolphins that you'd look at to try and take from them to bring to your club." The Dolphins face somewhat of a baptism of fire in round one, where they host the highly fancied Sydney Roosters at Suncorp Stadium.

Seen here, Jesse Bromwich in action for the Dolphins against the Titans in pre-season.
Jesse Bromwich has been named captain of the Dolphins in their inaugural NRL season. Pic: Getty

Dolphins thumped in pre-season game against Titans

The Dolphins have been written off in most quarters ahead of their inaugural season and their performance on the weekend in a pre-season humbling against Gold Coast will do little to change perceptions. Titans winger Alofiana Khan-Pereira had a hat-trick of tries inside 12 minutes as marquee No.6 signing Kieran Foran excelled to ruin the Dolphins' first ever home match.

Khan-Pereira later crossed for a fourth time as the Titans thumped the Dolphins 40-16 in the NRL Pre-Season Challenge clash at Redcliffe's Kayo Stadium. The lack of defensive resolve by Bennett's team early on was a huge concern. The Titans were playing up-tempo footy from the start and the Dolphins lacked cohesion.

The top squad has only trained together for six weeks but the Dolphins have a huge task ahead to be ready for the NRL season kick-off in a fortnight. Dolphins captain Jesse Bromwich said the side "played like a team that had our first game together".

"Of course we need to be better," he said. "We are not really happy with the way we performed. Our edge defence was pretty leaky at times ... and we'll work hard to make that better."

The form of Dolphins fullback Hamiso Tabuai-Fidow, and the nous of teenaged half Isaiya Katoa, when he came on, were bright spots in an otherwise forgettable display. Bromwich said Tabuai-Fidow was a "special talent" and would only grow better at fullback.

with AAP

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