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Wayne Bennett’s future in limbo after NRL takes over Newcastle Knights


Brett Keeble

"Well it’s a starting point. It’s not stable yet": Bennett.

"Well it’s a starting point. It’s not stable yet": Bennett. Photo: Getty Images

Newcastle coach Wayne Bennett’s future in Newcastle remains ‘‘unclear’’ despite the NRL’s decision to take temporary ownership of the Knights.

NRL chief executive Dave Smith was at Hunter Stadium on Saturday to formally announce the end of Nathan Tinkler’s tumultuous three-year tenure as Knights owner, but Bennett said that did not equate to instant stability.

Smith’s declaration ended months of uncertainty after Tinkler’s Hunter Sports Group failed to secure a new bank guarantee by March 31, thereby reneging on the terms of their August 2011 privatisation agreement.

Using $5.1 million in start-up funds from what was left of the existing $10.52 million bank guarantee, Smith said the Knights will now be ‘‘in the top tier of football clubs across the whole game in terms of its financial strength’’.

Smith, Knights chief executive Matt Gidley and chairman Paul Harragon were in a buoyant mood at the announcement on Saturday, but Bennett was more circumspect  after his team’s 29-12 loss to the Roosters at Allianz Stadium later that night.

Asked for his thoughts, Bennett said ‘‘scattered’’.

‘‘Well it’s a starting point. It’s not stable yet,’’ Bennett said. ‘‘The NRL have done a really good job to get it to that position, and Nathan’s put us in a much better position than we were three years ago, so hopefully in the next few months when it’s really sorted out and finalised totally, then it will be a new beginning. But it’s not there yet.’’

Reportedly earning $1 million a year, Bennett is contracted until the end of next year, but there has been speculation he could leave at the end of this season or be asked to take a pay cut.

Bennett has said several times in the past three months that whether he stays or goes was not necessarily his decision alone, and would be determined by discussions he will have with the club’s new owners.

‘‘That’s exactly how it’s going to work. There’s no other way I can describe it,’’ he said.

Bennett believed any conversation he has about his future will not be with the NRL.

5 comments so far

  • Well if his name wasn't Bennett he would be a goner for sure.Going by results the Knights are not and never really have been improving during Bennett's term.In fact quite the opposite.The team is full of aging players bought in by Bennett who while good are very near the end of the careers(Smith and Mason etc)while bought in "stars" like Boyd look disinterested in anything but their pay.The demise of the Dragons after Bennett shows he doesn't really look ahead it is all about buying players hoping for short term success.
    Surely it is time for the Knights to rebuild under a new coaching staff-even the younger hungrier coach with Knight's blood in his veins who was demoted to make way for Bennett?

    Date and time
    June 16, 2014, 9:24AM
    • What rubbish.

      1. Bennett took the Knights to within one game of a grand final last year.

      2. Name me one other coach in the history of the League who has had to cope with the adversity Bennett has had to this season. Look at the best starting lineup for the Knights before Packer was sacked and the one that ran out against the Roosters. We have so many ageing forwards in the back at the moment because Packer, Tetavano had to be sacked, McKinnon's tragedy, Snowden suspended and Scott in Origin.

      3. Stone is not our saviour! He has a losing record! He fell arse backwards into two semi-final appearances. One was built by Brian Smith (the team lost most of their games after Stone took over and went from top 4 to 8th spot) and the other we finished two games back for 7th spot and only went through on for and against. We were road bumps in the both semis. Tell me what spectacular things has Stone achieved in VB cup? None.

      4. Saying a bloke has to bleed red & blue is nonsense. Ben Kennedy one of our greatest back rowers ever and essential to our 2001 premiership wasn't from Newcastle and neither was the bloke who built that team Malcolm Reilly.

      5. We have some good young talent coming through who we might be able to hang on to now that Tinkler has gone and our debts are under control. Besides signing the best of them long term the one thing we should not do is burn them out pushing them up to first grade before they're ready. The average career of an NRL player is 2 seasons. Wiping out the best of our kids on a lost season is a dumb idea.

      Date and time
      June 17, 2014, 7:20AM
  • As 'Jacko' says above, and the Dragons found out when their wheel fell off mid-season in 2011, Wayne Bennett is not always the best option. Newcastle should be one of the very strongest clubs in the NRL, given they are a one team, and a very large town with a huge juniour catchment. What on earth has gone wrong up there? As Geoff Toovey would say, "there needs to be an investigation, it's not good enough !"

    Albert Ross
    Date and time
    June 16, 2014, 1:27PM
    • Its simple Albert.....Bennett has lost his only had to watch his press conference after the Knights were flogged by the Roosters....

      A litany of excuses were trotted out.....Warea Hargraves took the ball up too hard....Kade Snowden was suspended for foul play......Packer was in Jail.......Kurt Gidley was past it......etc...etc.....

      Methinks that Bennett has stayed one season too just gotta know when to hold em and when to fold em

      Cyril Q Snodgrass
      Date and time
      June 17, 2014, 12:54AM
    • The wheels fell off at the Dragons because the bloke who took over was hopeless. Putting Benji straight into first grade after a year out when he played one good game in two years (not in the halves mind you) showed that. The other reason is that after Bennett left their recruitment and retention policies have sucked, blame Doubst for that.

      Blaming Bennett for stuff that went wrong after he left is ridiculous. The club wasn't on autopilot.

      Date and time
      June 17, 2014, 7:23AM

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