Wayne Bennett insists there was no need for the Dolphins to panic after failing to land a big blow in the player market, claiming the new franchise are “headed in the right direction” in their bid to lure Cameron Munster.

The Dolphins added impressive Cowboys forward Tom Gilbert to a list of new arrivals that includes Storm trio Felise Kaufusi, Jesse and Kenny Bromwich, Eels utility Ray Stone and Titans back Jamayne Isaako on Tuesday.

However, it’s no secret the NRL’s 17th franchise have yet to sign an all-important marquee player to lead off their inaugural campaign in 2023.

The Redcliffe-based club have tried and failed to poach the likes of Harry Grant, Reed Mahoney, Brandon Smith and Junior Paulo, among others.

Kalyn Ponga also joined the list of players to turn their back on Bennett last week when he inked a five-year extension with Newcastle.

It prompted Queensland great Cameron Smith to declare “the panic button is pretty close to being pushed” amid fears the Dolphins will struggle to be competitive in their first season.

Speaking to 9News Queensland, Bennett insisted there was no cause for alarm over the state of the Dolphins roster.

“I was never going to get all the players I wanted, not all of them. And we lost some of them,” the seven-time premiership-winning coach said.

“But others we have got. I’m confident we will get there in the end.

“It’s a process and I am happy to stay with the process.”

There could be a silver lining emerging, with negotiations with Storm and Maroons star Cameron Munster progressing.

Melbourne have conceded they can only offer Munster a reduced deal beyond his current contract, which expires at the end of 2023, leaving the door wide open for the cashed-up Dolphins to swoop.

The Storm have made it clear they won’t be releasing Munster next season and under current NRL rules, the Dolphins can’t make an offer for 2024 until November 1.

Bennett said he was comfortable with where the Munster negotiations sit, adding the Dolphins haven’t given up hope of securing his services for next season. 

“We are keen to have Cameron at Redcliffe whether it is 2023 or 2024. We are working with his management,” Bennett said.

“I’m not overly confident but I am not under confident either.

“There is a fair bit to be done yet, but we feel like we are headed in the right direction with our end of the bargain and hopefully Cameron will want to come.”

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