The Dolphins are reported to be lining up a second raid on the Newcastle Knights with young prop forward Mat Croker on the radar.
All the talk has focused on the future of Knights star Kalyn Ponga but he is not the only target. Reports say that Croker is also on Wayne Bennett’s wanted list as he attempts to build his roster.
Bennett will not have endeared himself to the Knights faithful with his pursuit of Ponga. And the Dolphins coach could be about to get even more unpopular.
The Dolphins want Croker
The Daily Telegraph report that Newcastle young gun Croker is a target. The 22-year-old only made his Newcastle debut in 2021 after coming through the ranks. He has just four first-grade appearances to his name but Bennett has spotted the potential.
Croker did catch the eye in 2021 when playing for Newcastle in the New South Wales cup. He captained the side and went on to make his first-grade debut as coach Adam O’Brien needed bodies.
The prop has played in two more games this season and impressed. He figured against the Wests Tigers in round two and the Panthers in round three. He played 54 minutes in total over the two games. But it was enough for him to give a glimpse of his potential.
It remains to be seen how serious the Dolphins are and how hard they will push for a deal.
Croker is great friends with Ponga. Together they host the 257 Collective Podcast along with former teammate Connor Watson. Watson left for the Sydney Roosters but Newcastle will hope to keep Croker and Ponga.
Ponga was grilled about his meeting with Bennett after Newcastle’s defeat against Manly on Thursday night. The fullback batted away the questions and said a decision will be revealed down the line.
Ponga plays it cool
He confirmed the meeting did take place but his commitment to Newcastle is clear.
“I don’t know if you notice, but every time you ask me I don’t give you an answer. So stay patient, I’ve got people working on it. My focus is always here,” the 24 year-old told reporters after the game.
“It (the Bennett lunch) obviously happened but once it happened, I moved on and worried about the game. It was disappointing the effort we put in at the end because we’d almost got ourselves back in a position to win.”
The Knights sit 2-3 for the season following the 30-6 loss against the Sea Eagles.