Bennett insists talk on his future won’t derail Phins

Joel Gould |

Dolphins head coach Wayne Bennett says he has no intention to retire at the end of 2024.
Dolphins head coach Wayne Bennett says he has no intention to retire at the end of 2024.

Wayne Bennett is off-contract at the end of the year, but he has guaranteed that constant speculation about his future will not distract him or his Dolphins players.

The 74-year-old will kick off his last season as head coach of the Dolphins on Sunday against North Queensland at Suncorp Stadium. 

His assistant Kristian Woolf will take over at the end of this season.

Last year a suite of potential NRL expansion teams – including Perth, North Sydney Bears and a third Brisbane team – told AAP they would target Bennett as their inaugural coach.

This week PNG Kumuls captain Kyle Laybutt told AAP he would like to see Bennett coach a home-based NRL side in Papua New Guinea.

NRL expansion may not be for several years, and Bennett may not want to wait that long.

Rugby league Immortal Andrew Johns told the Nine Network this week that if South Sydney or Parramatta missed the finals this year, Bennett would be in the frame to take over. 

“I can’t go to all these clubs,” Bennett said when asked about being in demand.

“Just give me a break. I’ve just got one here at the moment. Let’s worry about this one.”

Bennett had an entertaining press conference on match eve.  It was pointed out to him that he had rarely been off-contract in his career.

“I haven’t thought about it. Next question,” he said.

It was put to Bennett that he had no intention to retire.

“No,” he said.

One thing the coach did guarantee was that media talk about his future would not derail the Dolphins’ season or be a distraction.

“It might be for you guys, but it won’t be for me,” he said.

What about for the players?

“It won’t be for them either,” he said.

Dolphins CEO Terry Reader said the constant discussion about Bennett’s future would no doubt be “a circus” in the media. 

The Dolphins do have a job for Bennett next year in some capacity if he wants to take it up.

Bennett was overlooked for the New Zealand head coach role that was secured by Kiwis legend Stacey Jones.

The Australian could have juggled the Kiwis job and an oversight position at the Dolphins, but that will not occur now.

“Selfishly I would have liked Wayne to have got the New Zealand job,” Reader said.

“Only Wayne will decide when he wants to stop coaching. When we signed him as an inaugural coach he was big on bringing in an assistant (Kristian Woolf) who took over after three years. 

“We think that will work wonderfully well and we will have a role for him beyond that. 

“I have no doubt the chatter and circus (about Bennett’s future) will go on all season, but there’s only one man who will decide what he wants to do. 

“He has said that the focus is this year, and we will sort (the future) out at the end. 

“The club does intend to keep him. He knows that and we will talk about that when the time is right.”