Dolphins coach Wayne Bennett has revealed he had “no confidence” Cameron Munster would eventually sign with the NRL’s newest franchise and criticized the Storm superstar for not informing him personally of her decision.
The 28-year-old turned down a four-year, $5.6 million offer from the Dolphins to re-sign with the Storm for four years for $4 million.
As it stands, the Dolphins have yet to sign a new player as they were missing an extensive roster of superstars including Harry Grant, Jahrom Hughes, Reece Walsh and Kalyn Pong.
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While Bennett himself resigned himself to the fact that Munster would not be moving north, the super coach lamented the Maroons cannon for avoiding a “tough phone call”.
“It’s a pretty common thing, mate, it’s a pretty common thing, that’s the part, I understand managers and all that, and they’re needed,” Bennett said Triple M’s Rush Hour with Leisel Jones, Liam and Dobbo.
“But what I can’t get and what I can’t relate to is the fact that the players are missing from all the tough conversations we have to have.
“They’re not going to ring you and tell you they’re not coming, they don’t have to call, it’s a tough call, it’s a call none of us want to make, but you want to be human, you have to act like one.
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“Don’t have your manager call and tell them you’re not coming.
Bennett, who won seven premierships as a coach, likened the situation to his own childhood experiences of getting his mum to call his friends.
“I think they’re going to miss out on a very important stage in their lives of how to say no and how to say no by saying no politely,” Bennett said.
“I’m not going to let someone else go ‘here I’ll send you a message.’
“I remember making my mother call my little friend when I wanted to go to football… I didn’t have the guts to call and ask him if I could go, I would have made my mother and I hated myself for it.” it.
“I learned not to ask my mum anymore because I knew I should have done it if I was the one who wanted to go.
“It’s hard to tell someone you’re not coming when it’s a lot of effort, but it’s the price you have to pay to grow into a man you can be proud of.”
Bennett revealed he was confident of recruiting Munster when talks began, but as negotiations “drew on” he knew Melbourne would re-sign the gun.
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Bennett and Munster worked together during the Maroons’ 2020 Origin series win – but it clearly wasn’t enough to defeat Craig Bellamy’s final season at the helm.
While Dolphins fans have been desperate to land a marquee star, Bennett remains calm and will wait for the right player before handing out a lucrative contract.
“What that’s done is we’ve got a lot of money left in the salary cap to go and buy quality players, and we’re not going to spend that money until we get that player,” Bennett said.
“The opportunity has come, we will go somewhere else and look for a player we know we need and most importantly not waste money.
“I’ll play one less next year to make sure we get the right player for 2024, I’m not going to go out now and spend that money on someone we don’t think can deliver what we need.”
The NRL has been consistently criticized for the way it has gone about introducing the new franchise.
Scholars believe the Dolphins are at a major disadvantage against their opponents and should be given extra time or an exemption from recruiting rules to build a competitive roster.
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Bennett clearly agrees, but knows that the other 16 clubs in the competition do not welcome the new rival.
“The NRL did the right thing by creating a 17th team, we all knew what the rules were, if we didn’t like the rules we didn’t have to apply to be admitted to the competition,” Bennett said.
“The other 16 teams don’t want you, that’s for sure, they don’t want you because they’re after their possession, a little bit of their turf, and the 17th team is a nuisance because they’re going to lose a few more. players.
“What the game has never done is support the arrival of a new team in terms of recruiting or anything else.
“The Broncos, the Gold Coast when they first came in, Newcastle, a lot of them were never supported by playing with players.
“I honestly believe the game should, like the AFL, when the two new teams came in, Western Sydney and Gold Coast, each club had to give up a player or two to make it more viable.
“It’s never happened in our game, it’s not going to happen now, but we’re new to the rules, we’re just going to get on with life and do whatever we can to prove everybody wrong.”
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