Home Australia NRL steps in to help depleted Dolphins, coach Wayne Bennett in doubt due to illness

NRL steps in to help depleted Dolphins, coach Wayne Bennett in doubt due to illness

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NRL steps in to help depleted Dolphins, coach Wayne Bennett in doubt due to illness

The NRL has again given the Dolphins permission to drop out of its top 30 in order to field a team, as coach Wayne Bennett battles illness ahead of their round seven clash with Parramatta.

Due to injury and suspension, Redcliffe Dolphins fullback Trai Fuller, 27, will line up against the Eels in Darwin on Friday.

Number one star Hamiso Tabuai-Fidow will miss four to six weeks with a torn hamstring, but that’s not the only obstacle the Dolphins will have to overcome against Parramatta.

Bennett did not fly west with the team on Wednesday night due to a bout of flu and was still unable to travel to Darwin on Thursday.

It is understood Bennett may also not make the four-hour plane journey on Friday, with his assistant Kristian Woolf on standby to take charge of the match.

Last week, CQ Capras’ Queensland Cup forward Lachlan Hubner received special dispensation from the NRL to play against Brisbane due to a striker shortage.

Redcliffe’s Hubner and Fuller have NRL training and trial contracts with the Dolphins.

The rules of the competition state that these players can only play at the elite level from round 11 onwards, but the governing body has allowed the Dolphins to bring them in earlier.

The Queensland team has at least eight of its best players suspended or injured during round seven, including big guns Thomas Flegler, Herbie Farnworth and Felise Kaufusi.

Fuller was Queensland Cup Player of the Year in 2023 while playing for Redcliffe and is a try-scoring genius.

“He is a decisive player and one of the best players in the competition,” said Redcliffe coach Ben Te’o.

“Trai is our man of the match every week. He scores tries. He makes breaks and is too difficult for people at that level to handle.

“It’s above Queensland Cup level.”

Te’o said Fuller would accept the challenge of replacing Tabuai-Fidow and would not be overwhelmed.

“Trai won’t try to play like Hammer (Tabuai-Fidow), he will try to play his own game,” Te’o said.

“I don’t think it’s too difficult a task for him.

“When he played last year he got an NRL game and came back to me at Redcliffe.

“This time he has at least four weeks to come out and play. That will be really good for him.”

Dolphins captain Jesse Bromwich said Fuller did a good job in his previous NRL appearance, against Wests Tigers in 2023.

“What I like about him is that he is tough and exploits gaps very hard. He has a knack for finding the try line,” Bromwich said.

“It’s heartbreaking to have Hammer out. He’s one of the best players in the competition (but) on the other hand, I’m happy for Trai.”


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