The Dolphins NRL franchise have secured hard-hitting Parramatta Eels’ forward Ray Stone for their entry to the NRL competition.
Stone will leave the Eels at the end of season 2022 after being targeted by Dolphins’ head coach Wayne Bennett.
He has agreed to terms on a two-year deal with the Dolphins, lining him up to be part of the new club’s inaugural seasons of 2023 and 2024.
Since making his NRL debut in 2018, the tireless middle forward has appeared in 28 NRL matches for the Eels, including playing in their two NRL finals appearances in September.
The 24-year-old played lock for the NSW under-20s State of Origin team in 2017, the same year he played for the Junior Kangaroos. He also represented his country as an Australian Schoolboy.
Dolphins’ NRL franchise chief executive Terry Reader said Stone was a strong acquisition for the new club, and one that had been shortlisted early.
“We need to build some depth to the squad we will ultimately enter the competition with, and Ray is just the type of player we are looking for,” said Reader.
“He is one of the most feared defenders in the NRL and when we sat down to talk about recruitment, Ray Stone was one of the first players that Wayne Bennett spoke about.
“Ray has gained some good NRL experience with the Eels and also covers the hooker position.
“We look forward to him joining the Dolphins when we begin pre-season training in November next year.”
Stone becomes the second current NRL player to commit to the Dolphins after the signing of State of Origin second rower Felise Kaufusi.
The Dolphins are the first new franchise admitted to the NRL since 2007 and will play their first game in March 2023.