NRL Round 1: Wayne Bennett delivers in first press conference after Dolphins shock victory

Wayne Bennett has delivered in his first post-game press conference as Dolphins head coach, taking shots at reporters and tempering expectations around his side in trademark style.

In front of over 30,000 fans at Suncorp Stadium, the NRL’s newest club caused a major upset, defeating premiership favourites the Sydney Roosters 28-18 in their first game in the competition.

Bennett was criticised for his recruitment after multiple big names knocked back offers from the Dolphins, but the experienced forwards complimented some of the talented young guns against one of the league’s most feared outfits.

Speaking to the media after the game, Bennett recognised the significance of the victory and compared it to the Brisbane Broncos in their inaugural game over 30 years ago.

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“I was pretty proud of everything they did…it was a tough game of footy and they competed from go to woe,” he said.


“It was a special for a lot of reasons today…the chance they took about being in the NRL and having 30,000 plus people here today.

“I think the Broncos had 15,000 the day we played our first game all those years ago…30,000 plus here today and it was a great atmosphere. 

“No one gave us a chance here much today – it’s terribly significant. One of the most difficult things is to get that first win because it just settles everything down. A loss here today would have put us under a hell of a lot more pressure.

“It’s just a great occasion and there are so many winners today – but the biggest winner today is the game.”

Experienced trio Felise Kaufusi and the Bromwich brothers were both integral in the Dolphins’ 10-point victory, while teenage debutant Isaiya Katoa proved exactly why Bennett has invested in him immediately.

But in trademark Bennett style, he wasn’t too keen to give wraps to the 19-year-old playmaker after the performance, instead focusing on the leaders in the side.

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“I didn’t think he was special, he just did his job. He’s got a lot more upside yet,” Bennett said.

“That’s what I bought Kenny and his brother and Felise for, because I knew what they brought and you all saw that out there today.

“That’s what we will build the foundations on – we can’t build the foundations on young men that don’t have a lot of football behind them, it just doesn’t work that way.

“They are our foundations and they proved that today.”

Kaufusi took out the Arthur Beetson Medal for player of the match, with some brutal first-half hits changing the complexion of the contest and allowing the Dolphins to take the lead.

Bennett was in a jovial mood following the game, but didn’t miss the opportunity to take aim at a reporter who questioned why he wasn’t at a recent pre-season fixture in Cairns. 

“Are you still looking for me? I went to Cairns and you were looking for me,” he said.

“I’m not sure I want to answer your question, you haven’t had the decency to ring me about it.

“You wanted to make me a headline over it, you didn’t bother to ask me where I was…you can’t just give it and not take it.”

After winning their first game, there were always going to be question marks over the Dolphins and their team song.

But there were no issues and no hiccups from the playing group in the sheds, with Bennett revealing the squad had been practicing belting it out prior to the NRL campaign kicking off.

“We went away on a pre-season camp for three or four days and I said to them we haven’t got a team song, I need you to work on it,” Bennett said.

“A couple of hours later, the senior players led by these guys – Kaufusi, him and his brother – had a great song and we’ve sang it 10 or 12 times now in different things we’ve done.

“It’s a tremendous theme song – it’s a real credit to them.”

Bennett’s side will now take on the Canberra Raiders next weekend in a bid to start their inaugural season with a 2-0 record. 

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