There are very few midfielders in the NRL who have had to work as hard and serve as long as Dolphins playmaker Sean O’Sullivan.
Now, after five years and landing at his fifth NRL club, the 24-year-old midfielder from St George is ready to make his mark with the competition’s newest franchise.
O’Sullivan was stuck behind Nathan Cleary and Jahrome Luai at Penrith Panthers, but he learned valuable lessons in his two years at the foot of the Blue Mountains.
He proved extremely capable when called upon, winning every game he played while Cleary was banned and during the 2022 State of Origin season.
Now, speaking to Daily Mail Australia at the launch of Stan Originals documentary Dawn of the Dolphins, O’Sullivan said it was all starting to look real for the new club.
Sean O’Sullivan is poised to step up and become one of the NRL’s top midfielders this season
The Dolphins star served a long apprenticeship during his young career
“Last night made it feel real, and then to see all the behind-the-scenes that made the Dolphins what they are today, what we’re trying to build, we’re just as excited as anybody,” he said. .
“It was difficult, obviously you get whipped in preparation, but it was really good. You can make new connections with everybody, you can meet literally 35 brand new players,” he said.
“We haven’t all played together, it’s all from scratch, so it’s really cool.”
The young playmaker made the most of his opportunities at Penrith and played an important role in the 2022 premiership season in Nathan Cleary’s absence.
Penrith coach Ivan Cleary and midfielder Nathan Cleary were huge influences on O’Sullivan.
After spells with the New Zealand Warriors, Brisbane Broncos, Sydney Roosters and the Panthers, O’Sullivan boasts plenty of experience which he is ready to bring to his new club.
“I’ve learned so much from all my experiences,” she said.
Hopefully I can bring that and hopefully it shaped me to be a better player and hopefully I can bring that to the Dolphins, really try to lead this team.
“I really need to focus on myself and sort out my game. All the other different layers and things will come off the back of that, but I really have to worry about my own yard first and nail it down.”
O’Sullivan played 12 NRL games for the New Zealand Warriors before moving to Penrith for two seasons
O’Sullivan during an NRL opportunity in 2019 playing for the Brisbane Broncos against the Parramatta Eels
After being handed the keys to the Dolphins by head coach Wayne Bennett, O’Sullivan said he was ready to move on to controlling his own side.
And many of those lessons have been learned by father-son duo Ivan and Nathan Cleary at the Panthers.
“I know I’m ready,” he said.
“That’s why I went to Penrith, was to get that experience and get that feeling again of what it’s like to lead a team and come back to a really good environment.
“I definitely learned so much from them and I’m very grateful to them for what I learned at Penrith.
“But I’m definitely ready to make this my home and really try to nail that spot.”
“They were very good to me, both of them,” he said.
“I talk to Nath at least two or three times a week. He is like a big brother to me and I am very grateful for all his support.
“It’s another sounding board that I have at my disposal and I’m very lucky to have them.
“They were awesome to me.”
O’Sullivan will appear in the Stan Original documentary series Dawn of the Dolphins – which chronicles the rise of the Redcliffe Dolphins from their announcement as the 17th NRL side, to their first trial games which will air from 6 March.