Dolphins NRL News Wayne Bennett’s team in 2023, look back at Storm, Rabbitohs, Titans

The Dolphins will be the fourth team of the NRL era to start from scratch; Melbourne in 1998, the South in 2002 and the Gold Coast in 2007 are the others.

They seem to have locked up quite solid ahead for 2023, they have one of the best coaches in the history of Australian sport, but they miss their outer back very much.

The assets of the above teams varied greatly in their early seasons – and it’s hard to speculate where the dolphins will fall in this spectrum.

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But here’s a look back at what each of these teams did at the first question.

MELBOURNE STORM

If you could build a perfect franchise expansion in Australian or even world sports, it would be Storm.

In their inaugural season, they finished two points lower than they had premiered the following year – and except for the 2001 and 2002 seasons, where they finished nine and ten, they have made it to the finals each year since (except for points in 2010).

In 1998, they had acclaimed coach Chris Anderson and signed many current and future stars – benefiting from the shutdown of several former Super League franchises as well as several clever purchases from elsewhere.

Glenn Lazarus, Tawera Nikau, Robbie Kearns, Rodney Howe, Brett Kimmorley, Marcus Bai, Scott Hill, Matt Geyer and Robbie Ross have been there since day one – many of those who came from Perth Reds, Adelaide Rams and Hunter Mariners who were led to the demise of the collapse of the Super League.

SOUTHERN SYDNEY RABBITS

Technically, this is not an expansion, but after two years of expulsion from the NRL, the Rabbitohs returned and needed a complete rebuild.

It’s fair to say that Souths’ relegation to the league didn’t go as smoothly as Melbourne’s debut season. They saved a wooden spoon only because the Bulldogs had all their points deducted for breaking the salary cap, Rabbitohs were largely limited to being excluded from other clubs or players who were nearing the end of their careers.

Their inaugural captain Adam Muir finished at the end of the season. Russell Richardson played only a few games until he succeeded in 2004.

The Souths won five games on their return to the NRL, three in the next and five a year later.

2002 was a brutal year, but they managed to uncover a few players who would be on the club’s return to the football finals and beyond.

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Nathan Merritt, Luke Stuart, Shane Rigon and Scott Geddes became the club’s mainstays, but most of the other players were either gone or were leaving until Russell Crowe and Peter Holmes and Court bought the club in 2006.

GOLDEN COAST TITANS

The region has been without a professional rugby league team since the Chargers packed up at the end of the 1998 season, and the appetite for football returned when it was confirmed that they would join the competition in the 2007 season.

Inaugural CEO Michael Searle was prominent in the media and the club had a number of big names for its first season – including Preston Campbell, Scott Prince, Mat Rogers and Luke Bailey.

The Titans found some form in the middle of the season and shot up to fourth place in the rankings, losing eight of the last 10 and finishing in 12th place.

The year 2008 was almost a copy. After 10 laps, they were at the top of the rankings and were still in the top four in the middle, but by the end of the year they had won three out of 15 matches and finished third from below.

In 2009 and 2010, they finished in the top four, but only won the lonely finals, until in 2011 they collapsed and won a wooden spoon.

The 28:16 win over the Warriors in September 2010 remains the club’s only win in the final.

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Ferdinand Medina

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