Wayne Bennett has defended a lack of Dolphins’ recruitment following news that another marquee target had brushed off the start-up club.
Fox Sports News broke this week that Reece Walsh will be at the Warriors next season, ending speculation that the young fullback is heading to Radcliffe.
After opting not to join Bennett in the NRL’s 17th club in 2023, Kalyan Ponga signed a new deal with Newcastle.
Bennett has also missed out on the likes of Harry Grant, Reid Mahoney and Tino Fasuamaleoui, while in-form playmaker Cameron Munster is still signed with Melbourne until the end of next year.
READ: Dolphins Complete 2023 Squad
Speaking to the media on Tuesday, Bennett defended his recruitment at the club so far and believes the Dolphins are in a good place in their first season.
“We are quite comfortable with the fact that the players we have are good players,” he said.
“I am sure over the next few months you will see the roster filling up and you will see the roster filling up with really good players.
“There’s criticism that we haven’t signed anyone, there’s criticism about Dad’s military and there will be criticism about something else in the future.
“We know what we are doing, we believe in what we are doing and no one will personally distract me 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 everyone’s best interest to go public.
“It will derail, but it’s not going to happen today.”
Bennett has signed Felice Kaufucci from the Storm and three experienced forwards in both the Bromwich brothers, but has been unable to land a key backbone player needed for them to compete for a top-eight spot.
Asked if it has been difficult for him to attract players, Bennett responded by trademark.
“What’s hard in that? I love what I do,” he said.
“I like to get out of bed every morning and talk to the other player or whatever – it’s not difficult.
“Those poor people working in the sun with a pick and a shovel, it’s hard.”
Bennett is likely to have a red-hot rift at Munster when he becomes available to negotiate with rival clubs from 1 November – but he may not be the only Premier-winning star the legendary coach will have his eye on.
According to senior reporter David Riccio nrl 360, Penrith’s three most exciting players will be available for talks and Bennett could be looking forward to the best group.
“Talking to the dolphins today, they claim they are going to get some signals in the next few weeks,” he says.
“No name, no idea who they are – but that’s the quote.
“Reece Walsh’s decision shocked me, I have to admit – credit to the Warriors, they get to keep their man.
“Jamaine Isako has signed the Dolphins as their fullback – but there was a bit of a mismatch last week and the players were out of contract on November 1.
“Penrith has three guns – Isaac Tago, Brian To’O and Stephen Crichton. The Panthers will not be able to keep all three, they are managed by the same management company.
“I doubt the Dolphins would make a play for Crichton as a fullback.”
Bennett has already signed Isako as a potential fullback option, but this year’s game-time constraints and an early-season switch to the Titans that haven’t produced results won’t help his cause.