With the Dolphins set to join the NRL in 2023, here’s who should feature on inaugural coach Wayne Bennett’s shopping list.
The Dolphins will compete in the NRL next year.
It’s still tough to compute, given how few players have committed, as soon as the 2023 season.
The Redcliffe-based outfit most recently signed Cowboys young gun Tom Gilbert. He adds to commitments from the Bromwich brothers, Felise Kaufusi, Mark Nicholls and Ray Stone. Panthers backup half Sean O’Sullivan has reportedly agreed to a deal, which adds to the newest club also recently signing Penrith 19-year-old Isaiya Katoa as an exciting future piece.
Attention now turns to who’s next, particularly a marquee name. The best five-eighth in the NRL, Cameron Munster, comes off contract at the Storm at the end of 2023 and the Dolphins have reportedly drawn up a deal worth more than $1 million a year to lure him.
The star Maroons half doesn’t help their claims next season, though. The market is thinning quickly, not helped by the NRL’s current regulations that allow players to lock in with a year still left to run on their current deals.
With confirmation the other big name Kalyn Ponga is re-committing to Newcastle, here’s who else Bennett should look to lock down.
Although Warriors young gun Reece Walsh is under contract until 2024, he has a ‘welfare clause’ in his contract.
If the Warriors return home for the 2023 season, Walsh may activate the clause and return to his family in Queensland, meaning the Dolphins would be in the mix.
Dragons young gun Junior Amone started the season in the 6 jumper, but copped a demotion to the bench in round four.
Reports have emerged that Bennett has reached out to the half.
The 20-year-old could be tempted to move to the Dolphins and have a fresh start and thrive under the guidance of the master coach.
Broncos young gun Herbie Farnworth is off contract at the conclusion of the 2022 season and started the year with four tries in five games.
The centre was born in England and has attracted interest from rugby union clubs in the UK.
Reports suggest the Dolphins have been one of the clubs most interested in signing the 22-year-old, along with the Eels.
Eels second-rower Ryan Matterson activated a 12-month contract extension last year and currently does not have a club for 2023.
Matterson can be a damaging player and has good strength and size.
A Felise Kaufusi/Matterson back row would be strong for the Dolphins with both players having plenty of experience, being strong defenders and capable of a game-breaking offload or line break.
Sea Eagles enforcer Marty Taupau is surprisingly unsigned for the 2023 season.
The hard-running forward is a veteran of over 200 NRL games and would add plenty of experience to the Dolphins pack.
The 32-year-old is one of the game’s strongest front-rowers and makes plenty of metres each week for the Sea Eagles.
Titans prop Jarrod Wallace would add experience to the Dolphins pack. He actually spoke recently about the possibility of joining the club.
Wallace has history with Bennett, previously at the Broncos.
After being sacked by the Bulldogs, forward Adam Elliott signed with the Raiders on a one-year deal.
Elliott’s partner Millie Boyle plays for the Broncos in the NRLW so the chance to relocate to Queensland could be tempting for Elliott.
There are reports this is now well and truly on the cards. Panthers halfback Sean O’Sullivan is on a one-year deal currently and was in outstanding form when he filled in for Nathan Cleary during the first few rounds.
The injury-plagued O’Sullivan has been an NRL journeyman after spells with the Roosters, Broncos, Warriors and Panthers.
O’Sullivan is third choice in the halves behind Cleary and Jarome Luai and would relish the opportunity to be a starting halfback.
Interesting fact is that O’Sullivan’s father Peter is the Dolphins recruitment manager.
Former Broncos player Anthony Milford is on the lookout for a new club next season after his one-year deal with the Rabbitohs for 2022 was terminated.
Milford was cleared of assault charges labelled against him and he signed a deal with the Knights for the remainder of the 2022 season.
Milford is an experienced player and would offer guidance and mentorship in the halves for exciting young halfback Isaiya Katoa, who recently signed on from Penrith.
Broncos hooker Jake Turpin is coming off contract and could be on the Dolphins radar after missing out on Harry Grant.
The 25-year-old was seen as the long-term hooker at the Broncos, however injuries and form have stalled his progress.
Turpin has a history with Bennett during his time at the Broncos.