The Redcliffe Dolphins – The NRL’s Newest Team

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The NRL’s newest team, the Dolphins rugby league team, kicked off their first match with a win. It is the first time that a new team has won its opening game since 1998.

Sean O’Sullivan might not have any star power but he will be a solid addition to the Dolphins for 2023.

The Dolphins

Unlike the semi-professional Queensland Cup club that shares the same name, the Dolphins are a fully professional NRL side. The Dolphins were granted a separate licence in October 2021 to compete as the national league’s 17th team from the start of the 2023 season onwards.

The Dolphins have a wealth of experience to draw upon with the likes of Jesse Bromwich, his brother Kenny, Felise Kaufusi and Mark Nicholls all having played over 200 NRL matches. The new kids on the block are set to shake up the south-east corner of the competition with a ready-made rivalry with the Brisbane Broncos.

The Dolphins have also bolstered their depth with the addition of experienced players such as Luke Gara, Matt Lee and Euan Aitken. Aitken isn’t the flashiest player nor will he single-handedly win games but the 26-year-old is a tough competitor and provides Wayne Bennett with a reliable option at centre or wing. Aitken is a stong ball carrier who tackles hard and drives through contact.

The Junior Dolphins

The Junior Dolphins are a key component of the Club’s success in the wider community. They compete in the Junior Rugby League Brisbane competition throughout March to September each year. Their Game Development staff run a number of coach education courses, helping to improve the quality of coaches across Queensland junior rugby league clubs.

Those coaching courses are part of the Dolphins’ broader commitment to improving rugby league participation in Queensland schools. The Dolphins have created pathways for local students in Wide Bay and Central Queensland to play and excel in rugby league. The club also operates academies that identify young players and provide them with specialised coaching to better their chances of progressing into representative or higher grades. The Club also employs full-time staff to conduct activities in these regions, believing sport participation should be part of a holistic school curriculum. Stage 1 of Dolphin Stadium, the Des Webb Stand was opened in 2016 and is located on the western side of the ground.

The NRL Dolphins

For a club that started on a dirt patch with no electricity or the infrastructure expected at an NRL ground, Redcliffe’s rise to become the newest team in the top grade is nothing short of extraordinary. With 30,000 Leagues Club members, a boutique ground in Moreton Daily, and a $50 million bank guarantee, the Dolphins bring a lot to the table and were clearly the only choice when the NRL granted them a license.

In addition to the familiar faces of Storm trio Jesse and Kenny Bromwich, Felise Kaufusi and Mark Nicholls, Redcliffe has assembled a well-rounded top 30 roster with the likes of Isaiya Katoa (back row), Jeremy Marshall-King (winger), Sam Jennings (centre) and Jamayne Isaako (fullback).

And with an affiliation deal with the Central Queensland Capras allowing the club to take on four young Papua New Guinea players from their PNGNRL Digicel Cup team through to the QRL state competition and then into Australian NRL, the Dolphins are building that classic rugby league cliche of youth and experience.

The Redcliffe Dolphins

The Dolphins bucked the trend of new NRL clubs by starting their 2023 season with a win, defeating the Sydney Roosters in front of 32,000 fans at Brisbane’s Lang Park. Supercoach Wayne Bennett’s assemblage of promising youngsters and cast offs from NRL powerhouses surprised many with their performance at the inaugural game for the club in the elite competition.

After the victory, fans loudly chanted “Redcliffe” at Suncorp Stadium despite the fact that the NRL club does not officially include that name in their title. That decision was made during the bidding process as the NRL would not allow the club to use the name of a semi-professional team that exists in their local catchment area.

A few days after the victory, The Dolphins signed in-form NRL winger Tom Gilbert on a three-year deal. They also added depth to their backline by signing Valynce Te Whare from New Zealand rugby union and bringing in Queensland Cup prop JJ Collins on a two-year deal.

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