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Joel Gould

Dolphins will rise to challenging NRL draw: CEO Reader

Dolphins CEO Terry Reader has outlined why the club will overcome the hurdles in the 2024 NRL draw. (Darren England/AAP PHOTOS)

The 2024 NRL draw has good, bad and ugly elements to it for the Dolphins, but club CEO Terry Reader is looking on the bright side.

The Dolphins will play the week before all three State of Origin games - against Canberra, Melbourne and South Sydney - where they will be without their Origin stars.

Queensland trio Tom Gilbert, Tom Flegler and Hamiso Tabuai-Fidow are all likely to be missing and possibly Maroons stalwart Felise Kaufusi. 

They also have byes in rounds three, 14 and 18 but none of them are the round before or after an Origin match so their representative players will not get a rest.

On the flip side of those challenges, the Dolphins have been given an opportunity to make a fast start to the season if they are good enough. 

After starting with North Queensland at Suncorp Stadium in round one they host St George Illawarra in Redcliffe, have the bye and then play Gold Coast (away) and Wests Tigers (home), all teams that finished outside the top eight in 2023.

In the opening 11 rounds they play just two top-eight sides (Brisbane and Newcastle) from last year and leave Queensland just once.

"There are always positives and negatives in every draw, and challenges," Reader told AAP.

"We are going to be positive about it but there is only one team that will play three games without their Origin players and that is us.

"I have noted the feedback from our fans so far and the overwhelming reaction to the draw is one of excitement.

"They are over the moon we are opening with a Queensland derby blockbuster against the Cowboys in Brisbane at Suncorp Stadium.

"We also only have to travel on an aeroplane twice in the opening 11 rounds which is a real positive for us from a football point of view. If we can get off to a good start it will set us up for a strong season and hopefully our fans will get right behind us like they did last season."

The Dolphins have two games against cross-town rivals the Broncos, in round six and round 26 both at Suncorp Stadium.

The Dolphins were not initially impressed about hosting the round-26 clash on the same August 31 night as the Brisbane Festival's traditional Riverfire event, which has drawn crowds of 400,000 people to the fireworks spectacular.

"We have reached out to Brisbane Festival to see how we can integrate the game into the festival with the timings because the 'Battle of Brisbane' is a huge event already," Reader said.

"We are looking at it as a positive and how we can make the game part of the festival celebrations."

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