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Newcastle Knights coach Wayne Bennett to decide future within weeks

Expected to make a decision on coaching future: Wayne Bennett.

Expected to make a decision on coaching future: Wayne Bennett. Photo: Jonathan Carroll

Newcastle coach Wayne Bennett expects to make a decision on his future within weeks amid growing speculation that he is the No.1 target for the vacant St George Illawarra job.

Bennett and other members of the Knights’ off-field staff are only contracted until the end of October under revised deals following the NRL’s recent takeover of the club from former owner Nathan Tinkler.

Fairfax Media has been told that the contracts of players were transferred to the new entity, known as Knights Rugby League, but staff contracts were voided and new deals drawn up for the remainder of the season – meaning Bennett is a free agent after previously having been signed to the Tinkler-owned club for another year.

NRL chief executive Dave Smith has said he would like Bennett to remain in charge next season but other clubs are believed to be circling, with the seven-times premiership winning mentor linked with a return to either the Dragons or Brisbane, or a move to the Warriors.

While it is believed that Bennett does not want to leave while the Knights are in a transition phase, he appears frustrated by the uncertainty that still hangs over the future of staff and players in Newcastle and made reference at the post-match press conference after Monday night’s win over North Queensland to the fact the club currently does not have a board to make decisions. He later said a meeting with NRL officials last week had been postponed to Thursday and said he hoped that would provide some clarity.

However, Fairfax Media was told on Tuesday that the meeting will not be attended by anyone from the NRL with the authority to discuss Bennett’s future at the club.

‘‘We were due to have a meeting last Thursday, that didn’t eventuate so I understand that will be this Thursday so I will be a lot clearer when I come out of that meeting because there is no one in our organisation now that can make decisions about anything other than the running of the club on a day-to-day basis,’’ Bennett told ABC Radio.

‘‘We don’t have a board, we don’t have a chairman, we have a chief executive, of course, we have got a coach and we have got a whole lot of staff who are doing their jobs really well under difficult conditions but the end result is that until we have discussions with the NRL, who are now in control of the club, or there is a board appointed, nothing will be resolved.’’

Asked if he expected to be closer to determining his future after the meeting, Bennett said: ‘‘I think I certainly will, I want to. The club needs to know a lot more as well, so whether it all comes out in the one meeting I am not sure about that but I am sure over a period of weeks after that there will be some movement about what is happening with staff, what our positions are and what is going on.’’


Bennett  expected his future to be finalised within a month and possibly sooner. ‘‘I would have to think you would have to know in a month,’’ he said. ‘‘It may be a week, it may be two weeks, I can’t put a definitive time on it ... there are a whole lot of issues that have to be resolved here, and every day we let go is another day we lose a bit of ground.’’

9 comments so far

  • This Dragons' fan would be delighted to have Benny back in charge so long as Paul McGregor is appointed as assistant coach with a view to him eventually taking over. The shifting of Josh Dugan to centre is telling; the fullback position will be Darius Boyd's again should he be able to follow Benny back to the Dragons. That might be the only sticky issue in all of this because it seems Boyd remains contracted to the Knights via the NRL takeover. That being said, there's been enough scuttlebut about 3rd party payments not being paid to Boyd and maybe that's the basis for him exiting the contract.

    Commenter
    Steve
    Location
    Arizona, USA
    Date and time
    June 25, 2014, 1:55AM
    • Boyd makes it a condition of his contracts that when Wayne leaves he may leave.

      Commenter
      Rossco
      Location
      Robina
      Date and time
      June 25, 2014, 9:59AM
    • Boyd was not well regarded @ Dragons, & is not liked @ Knights. The Dragons already have three fullbacks of far superior player quality, ethos, & ability than Boyd (Quinlan, Dugan, Beale). This might become a test to see whether Boyd can let go of the apron strings to be his own man.

      Commenter
      Bazzio101
      Location
      Mt Coalh
      Date and time
      June 25, 2014, 11:24AM
    • We don't need Boyd back, he is hugely over-rated. Adam Quinlan is doing a great job as custodian and should get the chance to keep his position for as long as we can hold onto him.

      Commenter
      MotorMouth
      Location
      Sydney
      Date and time
      June 25, 2014, 12:07PM
    • Bazzio101 - none of what you say is factually correct. Yes maybe Boyd hasn't got much of a career in the media after football, this doesn't make him unliked or unregarded by his team mates.

      The idea that any of those other fullbacks are better than Boyd is laughable...only Dugan has a chance to be as good and then he has a long way to go to achieve what Boyd has already.

      I'm a Knights fan and member and yes I've been disappointed that Boyd's form has been down especially after he had a great season last year. But I don't really blame him, teams don't win in this league without strong forward packs and the Knight's pack has been decimated with contracts being ripped up, injuries and suspensions.

      I can't think of one back who's been consistently good for the Knights this year behind our decimated pack. And given those circumstances I certainly don't blame a bloke who's owed 200k finding it hard to be up for say a game against Manly at Brookvale.

      Commenter
      Seano
      Date and time
      June 25, 2014, 2:15PM
  • The NRL should pay what ever Bennett wants to keep him at Newcastle for the betterment of the Club, Players, supporters & NRL itself. The quality of this man has shown throughout this saga in his keeping the players together and the fans believing in them.

    This should not be a issue of money the NRL should see it more importantly as a issue to show trust & respect to all.

    Commenter
    Peter@epping
    Date and time
    June 25, 2014, 6:57AM
    • I really hope Bennett stays. He got us to within one game of a grand final last season.

      This season has obviously been a shocker but imagine how bad it would have been if we'd had a rubbish coach? Despite losing 3 key forwards, numerous injuries and suspensions to key players at key times and blokes not being paid Bennett has still managed to turn out a team that's been competitive in every game.

      I doubt many other coaches could have done that. Look at the Sharks, they're also got off field problems and injuries but they're getting flogged every week. The Knights have been unlucky in more than a few games.

      The other problems are if Bennett leaves who replaces him that can build our champion team (Rick Stone is a coach with a losing record) and how do we attract the players we desperately need?

      Hopefully with some financial stability now that Tinkler is gone we can hold on to the best of our talented juniors (and they don't end up at the Roosters) but we still need a coach who can attract quality players to fill the holes and also develop those juniors into regular first graders.

      Commenter
      Seano
      Date and time
      June 25, 2014, 7:20AM
      • Bennett to Warriors???Are you for real,gone nuts or just stirring??
        Hell NO THANKS the club have shown some vision at last and signed "Cappy"Mcfaddon on a long term deal.He is the perfect fit for us as results,moral, playing style (eg consistent defense while still needing work is the best it's been for years)show.
        Doyle is also coming home as CEO at seasons end.
        We are just fine and building to become a regular top six(hopefully top 4)side within the next two seasons.
        We don't want or need yesterday's man Bennett who will bring the likes of Boyd with him.
        If his name wasn't Bennett wouldn't the Knights have sacked him as his results there with a good roster have been terrible at best.
        If the RedV want him good luck (didn't Bennett leave them taking his favorite players with him showing the club no respect)but "Mary" McGregor with some intelligent recruiting of one or two play making back rowers and a couple go hard forwards like Lillyman could well be a better long term choice.

        Commenter
        Jacko
        Location
        Warriorville
        Date and time
        June 25, 2014, 7:31AM
        • You can't blame the young players for wanting to play at a better run, more successful team Seano.

          Commenter
          aussimmo
          Date and time
          June 25, 2014, 3:16PM

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