Dolphins half Isaiya Katoa gets Wayne Bennett seal of approval after dumping veteran Anthony Milford
Teenage Dolphins half get Wayne Bennett seal of approval for NRL debut after dumping veteran Anthony Milford: ‘You get your reputation on the football pitch’
Wayne Bennett has given teen No. 6 Isaiya Katoa a convincing display of confidence ahead of the biggest game of his life as the Dolphins prepare to sink or swim in the big time.
Katoa, preferred to veteran Anthony Milford for position play against the Sydney Roosters on Sunday, will make his NRL debut at Suncorp Stadium on the same day the Dolphins make their first league appearance.
The Dolphins continued their captain’s run at Suncorp on Saturday, where Bennett was forced into a late substitution.
Striker Herman Ese’ese will miss the game with a chest injury that is expected to keep him out for four weeks. His place on the bench has been taken by Connelly Lemuelu.
Bennett said he had complete confidence in 19-year-old Katoa, who made his international debut for Tonga at last year’s World Cup.
“Isaiya trained very well. He’s a quality player,” said Bennett.
Teen star Isaiya Katoa was signed by Penrith and will now get his NRL chance with the Dolphins in their NRL debut against the Sydney Roosters
Coach Wayne Bennett talks tactics with assistant coach Nathan Fien during a Dolphins NRL training session at Kayo Stadium
“He has quite a challenge ahead of him, but I think he can handle it. He’s still young but I think he’s pretty mature and the rest we’ll all have to see and see because I’d never seen him play until (the trials).
“Training is not where you build your reputation. It’s on the football field. He’s starting his journey, so let’s see what he brings.’
Milford was never dropped by Bennett to the Broncos, but the coach said he took the news well.
“No decision is taken lightly, especially with older players and players who have the quality that Anthony has, but there are some things he needs to be better at and be better at, and he’s working on that,” said Bennett. .
‘He was great. He understood. It wasn’t something I made up. He understands his own weaknesses in his game.’
Bennett and Captain Jesse Bromwich arrive at the ‘Dawn of the Dolphins’ documentary series premiere at Palace Barracks Cinema in Brisbane
Milford was sensationally dumped out of first grade for the first round, with Bennett giving him a list of things to work on
Bennett said the entire club was boosted by the signing of Broncos duo Herbie Farnworth and Tom Flegler for 2024.
“They were some great signings for us and great for the club and the fans, who realize they are young men with a lot of football ahead of them at the top of their game,” said Bennett.
“We are trying to build something that players want to go to and be a part of. It is clear that many young men have seen an opportunity and will continue to do so.’
Bennett said his team was capable of getting mad at the Roosters if they get the fundamentals he puts such a high price on right.
“It’s a very special day, especially with the tribute to Arthur (Beetson) and the quality of the opponent we play,” said Bennett.
“The dawn of the Dolphins has come true.”
Katoa, Milford and Bennett will star in the Stan Original Documentary Series Dawn of the Dolphins – chronicling the rise of the Redcliffe Dolphins from their announcement as the 17th NRL squad to their first trial matches to be broadcast from 6 March.