Bennett’s ‘Man in Mirror’ call can save Souths: Carroll

Joel Gould |

Wayne Bennett will transform South Sydney if he returns as coach, says a former Rabbitohs’ star.
Wayne Bennett will transform South Sydney if he returns as coach, says a former Rabbitohs’ star.

Mark Carroll says Wayne Bennett can transform South Sydney as head coach if the players heed the title of ‘The Man in the Mirror’, one of his famous books.

The former Rabbitohs, NSW and Kangaroos prop has revealed to AAP his great regret of knocking Bennett’s offer for him to join Brisbane, before they won five titles from 1992 to 2000.

The now 57-year-old, who won the 1996 premiership with Manly, said the possible appointment of Dolphins coach Bennett as head coach in 2025 after Jason Demetriou’s axing on Tuesday would inspire Souths players, if they changed their mentality.

The Rabbitohs were top of the NRL ladder mid-season last year but missed the finals with a late fadeout. Before round nine this year they were last after winning just one match.

“I feel sorry for Jason Demetriou, but the players need a good kick up the arse,” Carroll told AAP.

“Wayne Bennett wrote a book called ‘The Man in the Mirror’. The South Sydney players need to look in the mirror. They are conceding 36 points per game. That’s an attitude problem.”

Rabbitohs CEO Blake Solly said on Wednesday the club would speak to Bennett about returning to the club that he coached to two preliminary finals and a grand final from 2019 to 2021. Bennett, 74, reciprocated by declaring his interest. 

The Rabbitohs have had injuries this year but a roster that includes Latrell Mitchell, Cody Walker, Damien Cook, Jack Wighton and Thomas Burgess should be doing far better. 

“It took so long to make a decision (on Demetriou), so I reckon they were lining up all their cards and I reckon that is to get Wayne Bennett,” Carroll said.

“Is Wayne the answer? He is one of the best coaches around and would fix any side. Don’t worry about Wayne’s age. He is just as young and exuberant as ever and will be a bonus for any side, and especially Souths.”

It is the attitude of Rabbitohs players that Carroll said would change under Bennett, a free agent at the end of this season.

“There is one thing I have always said about Wayne Bennett. If he said to any player, ‘I want you to run through that brick wall’,  the player would ask, ‘how big do you want the hole?’

“He is one of a kind. I had the same kind of bloke at Manly with Bob Fulton. I would demolish walls for him.

“Some other coaches, you would say to them, ‘you go first’.”

Carroll had a stellar career but said it could have had extra icing on the cake.

“I did everything in my career but I kick myself that I had an opportunity to go to the Broncos in 1992 and I knocked it back,’ he said.

“I was at home and got a phone call. My dad said, ‘it’s Wayne Bennett’. Wayne said he wanted me up in Brisbane but I didn’t go. I knocked him back. 

“They signed Glenn Lazarus and kept winning comp after comp. In my life I would have loved to have been coached by Wayne Bennett.”