It is hard to fathom just how far the Dolphins have come in the first few months of their NRL journey.
Written off as certain wooden spooners, many of the so-called ‘experts’ suggested the Dolphins wouldn’t win a game.
Didn’t have the cattle, they said. Can’t compete without a marquee player, they surmised. Coach was too old, they thought.
The Dolphins chose to disregard the noise, and instead set about creating the perfect off-field start, including a lavish season launch in Brisbane’s CBD.
It also included a landmark event, the How We Built This luncheon, which was presented by partner Ariat in the lavish surrounds of Brisbane City Hall.
How We Built This - presented by Ariat
On that day CEO Terry Reader, coach Wayne Bennett and key recruits Jesse and Kenny Bromwich, Felise Kaufusi and Tom Gilbert detailed the efforts that go into forging a new club in the NRL.
The focus then switched to on the field and almost immediately the Dolphins blew the majority of expert opinion out of the water with a stunning start, that has now netted them six wins in their first 10 games.
It could have been seven wins if not for a few 50-50 decisions not going their way in the one-point loss to the Raiders in round nine.
The odds were probably against a bright beginning, with last year’s Rugby League World Cup mandating the first ever Dolphins’ squad would not be complete and together to train until January 4 – just two months out from the NRL kick-off.
The club’s pre-season form was just okay – a win over the Central Capras and a draw with the Cowboys overshadowed by a poor effort against the Titans in the final warm-up match before the season started.
But all that counted for little when NRL 2023’s round one rolled around.
No-one outside of the club had witnessed the hard training that had been going on behind the scenes, or the drive by the club to establish a new culture and team fabric.
The public and the ecstatic Dolphins’ members and fans got a taste of it when they witnessed one of the most stunning first forays into the NRL on March 5.
In celebrating Dolphins’ great and Immortal Arthur Beetson, the competition new boys came from behind to eclipse perennial finalists the Roosters 28-18.
Dolphins v Roosters - Round 1
For those that were there, it is a day that will be long remembered in Queensland rugby league history.
But there was more to come.
The Dolphins again came from behind against the Raiders in round two in their debut at their spiritual home base of Redcliffe.
When they beat the Knights in Newcastle the next weekend to record three straight victories, the NRL public was sitting up and taking notice.
The team won everywhere but on the scoreboard the next week against the Broncos, when a last-minute length of the field try denied the Dolphins.
Peaks and troughs are all part of an NRL season, and the Dolphins have had a couple of disappointing losses against the Dragons and Rabbitohs.
But they have also kept moving up the ladder with wins over the Cowboys in Townsville, and a history-making comeback over the Gold Coast Titans.
Dolphins v Titans - Round 8
Down 26-0 after 25 minutes, the Dolphins looked set for an embarrassing loss at home in an Anzac Round clash.
But the team showed its now-ingrained persona of never giving up, rallying back to equal the biggest comeback in NRL history with a 28-26 win.
Last weekend’s 36-16 destruction of the Sharks during Magic Round was another big marker of how much Dolphins can dare to dream.
Just how far can these Phins go?
With Wayne Bennett at the helm, anything is possible.