The Dolphins recruitment drive for their inaugural NRL campaign is going to plan and coach Wayne Bennett is a happy man according to Phil Gould.
Bennett has been busy since it was confirmed the Dolphins will become the 17th NRL team. A host of top names have already signed up, but some have slipped through the net. Melbourne Storm ace Harry Grant is one such player after he penned a contract extension last week.
The bid to sign new players continues and Kalyn Ponga has been the talk of the town over the last week. Reports that Bennett had met with the player caused a bit of a stir.
Ponga has a decision to make on his future with Newcastle. The fullback has the option to extend his contract or move on to pastures new for 2023.
Ponga in demand
Despite some being unhappy with the current system, the Dolphins did nothing wrong meeting with Ponga. And speaking on Channel 9’s Wide World of Sports Gould said as much.
“They are playing by the rules,” Gould said. “What did you expect when you bring a 17th team in to the competition. They need to go out and canvass players bring them to the club and make a big splash.”
The show then claimed that Ponga is likely to turn them down anyway. The story keeps changing and it was claimed that Ponga is happy to stay with the Knights.
But until he pens a new contract in the Hunter, the rumours will continue to rumble on.
Even if he misses out on Ponga, Bennett seems to be a happy man regardless. According to Gould the super coach has a few secret deals in the bag.
Gould would not go in to details or disclose names but suggested the Dolphins are happy.
“They have got a few, they have got more than you think,” Gould said. “Contracts are in the drawer I had a cup of tea with him (Bennett) before, he’s smiling, no stress.”
The Dolphins target Munster
There are still some big names out there and Cameron Munster is one of them. The Queensland State of Origin ace is expected to leave Melbourne Storm and a reunion with Bennett is possible.
Following the big deals handed out to Grant, Ryan Papenhuyzen and Jahrome Hughes money is more scarce. There may not be enough in the pot to give Munster what he wants and the Dolphins could swoop.
New Zealand Warriors star fullback Reece Walsh is another option. He is a star of the future and would cost significantly less than Ponga.