2023 NRL Season Preview: Dolphins

A massive inaugural season for the Dolphins under Wayne Bennett but can they hit the ground running?

The Dolphins come into 2023 as the first team to join the NRL since the Gold Coast in 2007 and while they tried to go after all of the big names, often it just didn't quite pay off.

All the big names from Brandon Smith to Reece Walsh to Cameron Munster were linked with the new side. However more often than not these superstars used the 17th NRL as leverage to increase new contracts or move to established sides.

The good news is the Dolphins have managed to land a couple of big-name youngsters in Hamiso Tabuai-Fidow and Tom Gilbert but have missed out on every single 'franchise' player they put a bid in for.

While this side is clearly based out of Redcliffe, the side has dropped the Redcliffe name to be seen as a more general Queensland side rather than geographically competing with bigger areas such as the Gold Coast or Brisbane.

The competition's newest side is set to host a massive first-up clash against the Roosters at Suncorp Stadium. The biggest hope for both the Dolphins and NRL is that a crowd turns up.

Expansion is hard for any competition but especially in a crowded market in Brisbane with the Broncos and Brisbane Lions already both extremely popular.

The bid for a 17th NRL side was a long and arduous process with many different sides interested from WA to New Zealand. The NRL will be doing everything they can within the rules to make the Dolphins a success with the hope of further expansion in years to come.

Wayne 'The Supercoach' Bennett

He might be 73 years of age and of course, didn't coach a game last season but much of the Dolphin's hopes and dreams will be piled upon the shoulders of Bennett.

Having won seven NRL grand finals as a coach and having a winning record of 63 per cent in the NRL, Bennett is certainly someone to watch this season. He will be bringing all of his experience across more than five decades to try and bring this side together.

In some ways, it's a very similar signing to Kevin Sheedy going to the GWS Giants for their inaugural season, and while that didn't quite work out there is no doubt Bennett is a little bit closer to the game than Sheedy was when he was at the Giants.


Euan Aitken, Jesse Bromwich, Kenneath Bromwich, JJ Collins, Herman Ese'ese, Poasa Faamausili, Trai Fuller, Tom Gilbert, Oliver Gildart, Cody Hunter, Jamayne Isaako, Robert Jennings, Isaiya Katoa, Felise Kaufusi, Brenko Lee, Edrick Lee, Connelly Lemuelu, Jeremy Marshall-King, Anthony Milford, Mark Nicholls, Kodi Nikorima, Tesi Niu, Sean O'Sullivan, Ray Stone, Hamiso Tabuai-Fidow, Valynce Te Whare, Mason Teague, Setu Tu, Jarrod Wallace.

Biggest Strength

It's hard to go past Wayne Bennett as the main strength of this side. If the Dolphins were able to sign any of those aforementioned marquee players then perhaps that would be the strength but it's hard to go past someone who coached more than 800 professional matches.

Outside of Bennett, the forward pack of the Dolphins looks their strongest with a mix of representative players and some young guns.

More than anything though it will be the unknown that's their strength with sides not really sure what brand of football the Dolphins will be playing.

Biggest Weakness

It certainly looks like the Doolphins will be finishing in the bottom section of the ladder, that being said a surprise or two will always come. The depth of this squad is a clear worry and a major weakness.

If there are any injuries to the spine of the Doplhins or even if players are called up during Origin then we really could see some blowout games.

There is plenty of talent and plenty of hope within the 30-man squad but outside of a couple of veterans, it's going to take something special for this team of unknowns to win many more than four or five games.

Rising Star

While the Dolphins clearly have several talented youngsters there is one that stands head and shoulders above all others. Isaiya Katoa had a great World Cup for Tonga and while he's left a successful side in the Panthers he has all the skills needed to be an NRL superstar.

While he might not start in his preferred position in the halves, due to Anthony Milford and Sean O'Sullivan also being at the Dolpins the young star will no doubt play at some point during the season. He has all the makings of being a decade-long player and the future face of the Dolphins.


The Dolphins might have the mighty Wayne Bennett on the sidelines but he won't be taking the field so there's only so much he can do. With a mix of reserve-grade players, young up-and-comers and former first-graders it's hard to see the Dolphins winning too many games.

Of course, Bennett and the Dolphins will be focusing on the round five clash against the Broncos at Suncorp. A win in this match could convert some fans but more importantly, really rust on those fans that are already leaning toward the Dolphins.

Overall it's hard to see the Dolphins winning too many games and if just one or two things go wrong in each game we could see some major blowouts.

Ladder position: 14th