Woolf will shine in 2025 at Dolphins juggernaut: Reader

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Dolphins CEO Terry Reader says Kristian Woolf will inherit a club that is in the best possible shape on and off the field when the Wayne Bennett-era as head coach ends next year.

The Dolphins notched 30,000 paid-up members this week and have averaged crowds of 32,500 at Suncorp Stadium where they will play their final NRL regular-season game against the New Zealand Warriors on Saturday.

The team has held their own in 2023 to win eight games despite being tipped not to win any by pundits.  

The Dolphins also have big names Thomas Flegler, Herbie Farnworth and Jake Averillo, amongst others, arriving in 2024.

Bennett is yet to decide whether he will move into a new role at the Dolphins or coach elsewhere.

Reader said Woolf was having conversations with Bennett and recruitment chief Peter O'Sullivan about players coming off contract in 2025 and 2026, when the former St Helens coach will be in control of the team on his own.

Reader said he had no doubt Woolf would be ready to take over from Bennett.

"It is not just about what I have liked this year. You just have to look at what he has achieved," Reader said.

"It is a probably a testament to what we are building here because Woolfy won three Super League premierships in a row and turned Tonga into a powerhouse of world football.

"He didn't just take the (Dolphins) job. He dug into our pathways and academies and what we are doing underneath because he knows, like Wayne knows, that the top doesn't work without the bottom.

"Woolfy understands that which is why he wanted to finish his apprenticeship under Wayne and take over in a really good position with what we are building."

Reader said the club had a world-class academy with promising young talent after starting to sign the best 15-year-olds available since 2022.

They will be filtering into the NRL squad in the coming years as the Dolphins open their cheque book to sign more big names.

"We still have got some salary cap room to add to our squad next year," Reader said.

"It was never just about 2023. We were never going to pay big money for someone we didn't think would help our team.

"We made sure we brought people in we wanted to and that were going to be the right fit for our club and we have some other years of salary cap space spread across those."