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Wayne’s withering spray puts Dolphins on notice: ‘He demands respect … when he talks, everyone listens’



Wayne Bennett has put the Dolphins on notice about standards with a trademark spray at training before naming a star-studded line-up for Sunday’s trial with Gold Coast.

The Dolphins players were silent when coach Bennett let them know in no uncertain terms that he was not happy with several knock-ons and their inability to execute correctly the NRL’s tweak to the long-standing “downtown” rule.

An official referee was on hand to adjudicate the rule which will receive greater focus this year to stop chasers from the attacking team rushing down-field prematurely when they know a kick is being put in.

Instead they must wait until the ball goes past their head before setting off.

NRL head of football Graham Annesley said recently that it meant chasers “have to stay at least level with the ruck until then”.

Bennett hates his teams giving penalties away so it was no surprise he was not happy with the lack of attention to detail ahead of his last season as Dolphins head coach.

He did also hand out some praise, giving Euan Aitken a pat on the back for his outstanding defensive work.

Aitken will play second-row in the Sunshine Coast trial in what is a hotly contested position at the Dolphins.

He said Bennett’s spray was warranted. “We are just getting used to the downtown rule. It is something we have to prepare for when it comes to match time,” he said.

“He demands respect, Wayne. Everyone has got all ears for him. He gives great advice and is a very knowledgeable coach. When he talks, everyone listens.”

BRISBANE, AUSTRALIA - JANUARY 24: Coach Wayne Bennett talks to his players during a Dolphins NRL training session at Kayo Stadium on January 24, 2023 in Brisbane, Australia. (Photo by Bradley Kanaris/Getty Images)

Dolphins coach Wayne Bennett talks to his players during training. (Photo by Bradley Kanaris/Getty Images)

Aitken said he had been training at centre and second-row this pre-season with teammates commenting on his high level of fitness and the 28-year-old’s efforts not going unnoticed by the coach.

“I want to get a spot for round one and Wayne has been pretty happy with how I have been training,” he said.

“(Intensity) has gone up two-fold at training. We are fitter than last year and it is a better squad than last year, and that is only going to make us go better than last year.”

Bennett has named new recruits and former Broncos duo Herbie Farnworth (centre) and Thomas Flegler (prop) to start. NRL regulars Isaiya Katoa and Sean O’Sullivan are the halves, while Queensland forward Tom Gilbert plays his first game since last year’s shoulder surgery.

© AAP



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