Bennett tells Dolphins young gun to shape up as weight concerns cast doubt over next contract

Dolphins centre Valynce Te Whare has been ordered to go through a torrid off-season training campaign to get his weight under control.

The young gun burst onto the NRL scene last season to become a cult hero with the fans following his two-try debut in an upset win over Cronulla in Magic Round and went on to play 12 matches for the new club.

But he was often exposed in defence due to his lack of fitness and lateral movement by fitter and faster opponents.

Dolphins coach Wayne Bennett has enlisted the services of his former Broncos trainer, Mark Burgess, to put Te Whare through extra sessions, according to a Courier-Mail report.

The New Zealand-born 23-year-old tipped the scales at 125kg heading into the pre-season and heading into the final year of his contract with the Dolphins, he needs to shape up or the club will ship him out. 

“I’ve sent Val away to get fitter – that’s the situation,” Bennett told the Courier-Mail. “He came back to pre-season way too heavy and too unfit to play NRL at that body weight.

“He is doing no ball-work with us at the moment, our priority is to get him fit, so I’ve asked ‘Chopper’ Burgess to help out.”

Burgess, a former boxing champion who has also acted as security for ex-Queensland Premier Peter Beattie and former US president Bill Clinton, has been putting Te Whare through boxing and hill run sessions twice a day for the past couple of weeks. 

With the arrival of Herbie Farnworth and Jake Averillo in 2024, Te Whare faces pressure to retain an NRL berth with the likes of Hamiso Tabuai-Fidow, Jamayne Isaako, Jack Bostock and Euain Aitken also in the mix for spots out wide.

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