Wayne Bennett says he "can’t believe" the achievements of Dolphins winger Jamayne Isaako as he closes in on wrapping up a feat that has not been achieved in 33 years.
The Dolphins host the New Zealand Warriors on Saturday afternoon with Isaako on the cusp of finishing as the NRL’s leading points and tryscorer in the regular season.
Rugby league legend Mal Meninga last achieved that milestone in 1990 in a Canberra side that won the premiership.
Isaako’s job is not done yet but he has 230 points, 14 clear of the Melbourne’s Nick Meaney who has finished his season. Cronulla’s Nicho Hynes is further back on 183 points.
Isaako also has 23 tries, two clear of South Sydney’s Alex Johnston and Newcastle’s Dom Young who both could catch him.
Whatever happens in the final round, Isaako’s feat in a team coming 14th is one of the most remarkable individual achievements in modern times.
"He has been outstanding, absolutely outstanding. I can’t believe what he has done actually," Dolphins coach Bennett said.
"It is a great credit to him. He is the only player that has played every game (for the Dolphins).
"We are not a top eight team even. That is what makes it remarkable. Mal had some great players around him and while the players around Jamayne have done well he has had five different centres playing with him.
"You can’t say he did it on combination. He just finds a way to score tries.
"Regardless of what the challenges have been for him he has maintained his form and his ability to play well every week under some pretty trying conditions at times."
The Dolphins can have an impact on whether the Warriors finish third or fourth on the ladder but Bennett said that was not his main concern.
"I know they are in the top four, the Warriors, but we are not trying to have an impact on anybody," Bennett said.
"We are trying to do what we have been doing all year. It is an important game for us. We want to do our best and finish the season."
Centre Euan Aitken is out of the clash with a calf injury and will be replaced by rookie Valynce Te Whare in the starting side.
Despite missing the finals Bennett said he was delighted with the response the Dolphins had received from the public, due in large part to the way everyone at the club had conducted themselves. The team have also battled adversity.
"You might have $9 million or $10 million in the salary cap but we run out some weekends with a salary cap around the $4 million mark with the players on the field because of injuries and suspensions.
"I think we have handled that great. We have got seven missing here tomorrow with injury."