NRL super coach Wayne Bennett is moving back to Brisbane at the end of the 2021 season.
The 71-year-old has revealed a significant piece of his future plans beyond the final year of his contract with the Rabbitohs in a revealing interview with The Courier-Mail.
Bennett reveals in the report he plans to be living in Brisbane by the end of this year and has put himself on the market as a free agent.
Bennett’s comments are sure to stir up the NRL hornet’s net with the Broncos, Rabbitohs and future, prospective Brisbane expansion clubs all linked with the veteran mentor.
It was revealed last month Bennett had been in secret talks with prospective NRL team the Brisbane Jets about a head coaching role in 2023.
He is regarded as one of the game’s greatest coaches, winning six NRL premierships with the Brisbane Broncos between 1988 and 2008.
He also guided Queensland to a miracle series win in the 2020 State of Origin series in a year where nobody gave the Maroons a chance.
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Wayne Bennett is coming home.Source:Getty Images
Bennett’s comments are a hammer blow to the Rabbitohs with the club reportedly still pursuing Bennett to extend his tenure at the club.
Reports in February claimed South Sydney was hoping to keep Bennett in a coaching director role while Rabbitohs assistant coach — and long-term Bennett disciple — Jason Demetriou takes over as head coach before the 2022 season.
Bennett has now told journalist Peter Badel he won’t make a decision about his future until the end of the year.
“I am going home to live in Brisbane full-time at the end of the footy season,” Bennett said.
“That’s my plan. Souths know about my position and after that who knows what I will do.”
The report reveals the Broncos are still interested in Bennett returning to the club to take up a position overseeing coach Kevin Walters as a coaching director.
Badel on Tuesday night told Fox League’s NRL 360 Bennett has told South Sydney about his plans.
However Bennett will still reportedly consider working with the club as a consultant, based from Brisbane.
“I think in his heart he would desire a return to Red Hill,” Badel said.
“Of course there are political complexities with what happened with his exit and what happened with his sacking and the board in 2018, but if they can overcome those hurdles, I know privately Kevvy Walters is open to having Wayne Bennett back.”
The news was met with strong scepticism by The Australian’s senior rugby league reporter Brent Read, who said the board and Bennett will never agree to end their feud.
Bennett famously hired lawyers after his sacking in 2018 and reportedly threatened the club with a $400,000 lawsuit on top of the reported $385,000 pay out he received for the early termination of his contract — before his move to South Sydney.
“Does everyone remember what happened when Wayne left? He torched the joint,” Read said.
“He tried to sue them, threatened to sue them. The people who got rid of him are still there.
“He’s not going back there, not unless the entire board goes. They’re not going to turn around and put their hand up saying, ‘We got it wrong’. So it’s just insane at the moment. The very thought of it is madness.”
It was a case of one rule for some, different rules for others in the NRL this weekend….
It was a case of one rule for some, different rules for others in the NRL this weekend.
It comes after reports last month the Broncos, Storm and Sharks are all chasing Storm coach Craig Bellamy to take-up a similar coaching director role for the 2022 season.
Bellamy is widely tipped to remain with the Storm beyond the 2021 season, but he has previously declared he wants to give up his position as the head coach.
Bennett last month also put himself on the market as a free agent for 2022.
Speaking to The Daily Telegraph, Bennett confirmed he had not made any decisions about his coaching career beyond 2021, and was open to all offers.
“I’m contracted to Souths for this year and then after that I’m a free agent,” he said.
“I’ve got nowhere to go (in 2022). I haven’t done any deals with anyone. I haven’t agreed to anything.
“There’s a number of strong applicants bidding to become Brisbane’s second team and they will need a coach, so I won’t rule anything out.”
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