Wayne Bennett has defended The Dolphins’ lack of recruitment, after news broke that another marquee target had brushed the start-up club.
Fox Sports broke the news this week that Reece Walsh would be staying at the Warriors next season, ending speculation that the young fullback would be heading to Redcliffe.
The news comes after Kalyn Ponga inked a new deal with Newcastle, opting not to join Bennett at the NRL’s 17th club in 2023.
Bennett has also missed out on the likes of Harry Grant, Reed Mahoney and Tino Fa’asuamaleaui, while in-form playmaker Cameron Munster is still signed with Melbourne until the end of next year.
READ: DOLPHINS FULL 2023 SQUAD
Speaking to the media on Tuesday, Bennett defended his recruitment so far at the club and believes The Dolphins are in a good spot heading into their debut season.
“We’re pretty comfortable that the players we have got are quality,” he said.
“I’m sure over the next couple of months you will see the roster fill up and you’ll see the roster fill up with really good players.
“There’s criticism we haven’t signed anybody, there’s criticism about the dad’s army and there will be criticism about something else in the future.
“We know what we’re doing, we’re confident in what we’re doing and no one is going to distract me personally from doing what I think is the best thing for the club.
“We’ve got to protect what we’re trying to build here, and sometimes it’s not in everybody’s best interests for it to be public.
“It will be down the track, but it’s not going to be today.”
Bennett has signed three experienced forwards from the Storm in Felise Kaufusi and both Bromwich brothers, but has been unable to land that one key spine player that will be required for them to compete for a top-eight spot.
Asked whether it has been hard for him to attract players, Bennett gave a trademark answer.
“Whats hard about it? I love what I do,” he said.
“I love getting out of bed every morning to go and talk to another player or do whatever – that’s not hard.
“Those poor guys working out there in the sun with a pick and shovel, that’s hard.”
Bennett is likely to have a red-hot crack at Munster when he is available to negotiate with rival clubs from November 1 – but he may not be the only premiership-winning star that the legendary coach will have his eye on.
According to senior reporter David Riccio on NRL 360, three of Penrith’s most exciting players will all be available to negotiate and Bennett may be keen on the best of the bunch.
“Talking to The Dolphins today, they claim that they’ve got a few signings coming in the next couple of weeks,” he sais.
“No names, don’t know who they are – but that’s the quote.
“The Reece Walsh decision surprised me, I must admit – credit to the Warriors, they get to keep their man.
“Jamayne Isaako has signed to Dolphins as their fullback – but there was a little bit of mail last week and players off-contract on November 1.
“Penrith have three guns – Izack Tago, Brian To’o and Stephen Crichton. Panthers won’t be able to keep all three, their managed by the same management company.
“I suspect Dolphins will make a play for Crichton as a fullback.”
Bennett has already signed Isaako as a potential fullback option, but his lack of game-time this year and an early-season switch to the Titans that hasn’t produced results won’t help his cause.