The Chronicle

‘We can take it to best’


NEWLY appointed Dolphins coach Wayne Bennett has backed the club to go toe-totoe with the best teams in the NRL as the master mentor begins to assemble his coaching staff and playing roster.

The 71-year-old was on Thursday confirmed as the Dolphins’ inaugural head coach, having inked a fouryear deal with the new NRL franchise that will see him through until the 2025 season – meaning he may have coached 900 games by the time he retires.

It will be Bennett’s sixth appointmen­t as head coach of an NRL club as he looks to add an eighth premiershi­p win to his illustriou­s resume.

Having already led a number of teams to premiershi­p success in his 30-plus years of coaching, Bennett said he “absolutely” believed the Dolphins would be a competitiv­e club from the 2023 season.

“I want to thank (ARL chairman) Peter V’landys and (NRL CEO) Andrew Abdo because the faith they’ve shown in me to make sure I’m part of this group is because they want the team to be competitiv­e as well,” Bennett said.

“I’m confident about that. We’ve got a lot of decisions to make that we have to get right.

“It’s not going to be easy. Will we be successful straight off the bat? Who knows but we’ll be doing the absolute best we can and setting up the building blocks to make sure it’s a strong club.

“The Dolphins have all the potential to be a real force in the NRL and I hope to turn that potential into a reality.”

Now with the head coaching role confirmed, the Dolphins will turn their attention to the rest of the coaching staff and player signings.

The November 1 player transfer window is fast approachin­g, which will allow rival clubs to approach players who come off contract at the end of 2022.

“We’ve got a $9.5m salary cap and you know you’ve got to get some marquee players so that will be our priority to get those and build those players around them,” Bennett said.

“They’re all playing in the NRL at clubs so we have to work through that and come up with the best roster we can.”

When it comes to players though, Bennett said his dream would be to one day see local juniors come through the ranks at the Dolphins to go on and play in the NRL for their hometown team.

“That’s all part of it and that’s what they’re doing here already,” he said.

“My dream is to have them come in as six-year-olds and play NRL, I really mean that.

“I can’t think of anything more exciting for a young player to know they can play for the Dolphins, come through the system and play first grade.

“Clubs in Sydney do that and there was about seven or eight of them at Souths.

“They make your club. They make your team because they’ve got the love for the place and they want to be part of it. There’s nothing greater for them to play in front of their parents and friends and they’ve done that since they were six years of age.”

 ?? ?? Wayne Bennett's first Dolphins press conference. Picture: Liam Kidston
Wayne Bennett's first Dolphins press conference. Picture: Liam Kidston

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