Gus blasts ‘amateurish’ Dolphins expansion

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Phil Gould has again called for the NRL to address its dilution of the talent pool, saying a lack of a player draft was a key reason for the "amateurish" Dolphins expansion bid so far.

The decision to make the Dolphins the 17th NRL team was only confirmed in October of last year – and plenty of people have expressed concerns with a 2023 debut season not being enough time to build a team.

"The way that the league has gone about its expansion project is absolutely amateurish, in the extreme," Gould said on Nine's 100% Footy.

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"There's no draft, there's no salary cap dispensation, there's no draft choices – when they put GWS into western Sydney, the advantages and the amount of investment they put in those to make the new franchise work was incredible.

"We've got not plan to bring a new team in. We've handed it to Redcliffe and said 'catch and kill your own'."

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While their forward pack is shaping up nicely, the Dolphins' backline is sorely lacking firepower with only Robert Jennings, Jamayne Isaako, Euan Aitken and Connelly Lemuelu boasting any NRL experience.

"Firstly, they needed two years if they're going to do it this way," Gould said.

"They needed two years of players coming off contract, not one.

"But secondly, there's no plan around what it's going to look like in two, five, 10 or 15 years' time, or even if they'll still exist in that time."

Gould's point about expansion teams struggling is well-documented.

Both of the rosters constructed from scratch in the 21st century, the re-instated South Sydney and the expansion Gold Coast Titans, struggled.

And while the Rabbitohs used their existing pathways and fanbase to turn their fortunes around, the Titans have remained mired in mediocrity for most of their existence.

Gould has long since advocated for a draft that would help siphon off-contract players to the poorer teams in the league, rather than the ones at the top.

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"Our game is not set up – you've got to have a draft and you've got to be able to have equal opportunity for clubs at the bottom to be able to get the talent that's coming around," he said.

"We have top teams feeding on bottom teams, the whole system is wrong. The whole system of recruitment and development is wrong – yet we just put another 17th team in and go."

Gould said the decision to add not just one, but two new teams, was necessary, but the way it was happening was wrong.

"We're leaving the future of Redcliffe and what this franchise is going to look like to two blokes; the name of Wayne Bennett and the talent scout, Peter O'Sullivan," Gould said.

"They're saying 'build us another team' – well that's not how it should work. The NRL should build the team, and get it set up with its infrastructure."

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