Dolphins NRL: Who’s in and out for round one

Published 12:28pm 5 March 2024

Dolphins NRL: Who’s in and out for round one
Words by Kylie Knight

There’s been plenty of talk about the tough calls Head Coach Wayne Bennett would need to make ahead of round one. The time has come and today’s training session revealed a few.

Captain Jesse Bromwich spoke to the media after this morning’s training session about who made the cut and how much he’s looking forward to this weekend’s first game against the Cowboys at Suncorp Stadium (3.05pm kick-off).

See the photo gallery from training at the end of this story

Tesi Niu, Kodi Nikorima and Max Plath look like they have been rewarded for strong pre-season training with spots in the starting side, while Isaiya Katoa looks unlikely to get a run. He trained with the second side this morning alongside Jake Averillo and Euan Aitken.

Bennett’s final side won’t, however, be known until later this afternoon and there could be some surprises in store.

Bromwich, who is about to start his final season in the NRL, said Niu responded well to goals set for him by the coaching staff at the beginning of pre-season.

“He’s impressed not only the coaching staff but all the players as well – the determination to get those things done,” Bromwich said.

“He’s had a really big pre-season and I think he’ll be up for a really big year.”

Bromwich said Nikorima deserved a spot in the side, following his strong performances last season when the side’s depth was tested due to injury and suspension.

“He fixed a lot of positions for us last year and he’s another one … he’s had a really good pre-season. He’s at a really good age now, especially for those playmakers (who need experience) to make some good decisions for us,” he said.

Bromwich said Nikorima had stood up as a leader to the squad’s younger players and passed on his knowledge about the game to those around him.

“I think off the back of the pre-season and the way he played last year, he deserves to start,” he said.

Bromwich believes Katoa will have opportunities to play if he keeps working hard.

“He’s got a long career ahead of him. Everyone has these ups and downs … he’s really young, got a bright future ahead of him. I’m sure he’ll keep working hard,” Bromwich said.

“He’s probably one injury away from getting back in the team. He just needs to knuckle down and keep honing his craft.”

Bromwich said Max Plath was a versatile player who could be a crucial connection between the backs and forwards.

“He’s probably the one out of the lot that had that huge pre-season. I think he led everything, in terms of fitness … the long runs. He’s always out the front setting the standards. Wayne really enjoys those types of players,” he said.

In Bromwich’s view, Plath is a similar style of player to Tom Gilbert with a good work ethic and energetic approach to training.

Dolphins NRL: Who’s in and out for round one

Looking for strong start

Bromwich, who says he made the decision to call time on his career at this stage in the year to give the club certainty and start to prepare for life after footy, has never lost a round one game in the NRL.

He is keen to keep the record intact this weekend.

“I’m really excited for the first week. I think I’m mostly excited that pre-season is over. It’s been really tough, it’s been hot up here,” he said.

“It being Wayne’s last year … he turned with a pretty cranky attitude. When he does that, it means that we’ve got to be on or else we’re going to get whipped.”

So, what can fans expect from the opening two rounds, after the side’s strong start to their inaugural season?

“I think the same type of effort for sure. We’ve trained harder than we did last year, our younger boys are a year older into their NRL careers and we’ve got some exciting young backs out there too,” Bromwich said.

“I think that same effort, that same never-give-up attitude. I’m really looking forward to seeing how the fans turn up.

“I just think about last year and the support that we got from all the fans it was crazy. They all had those fins going and all sorts of crazy stuff, so I’m looking forward to going out there.”

As for who will replace him as captain in season 2025, Bromwich says there are plenty of leaders in the squad, but he thinks Tom Gilbert or Tom Flegler could be good options if the club is looking for a long-term captain.

See the photos from training

By Dominika Lis

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