Bennett never intended to coach Dolphins in 2025: CEO

Joel Gould |

Dolphins coach Wayne Bennett (left) has a strong understanding with CEO Terry Reader (right).
Dolphins coach Wayne Bennett (left) has a strong understanding with CEO Terry Reader (right).

Dolphins CEO Terry Reader says Wayne Bennett never intended to be head coach of the side in 2025, despite criticism of the club for not signing him on a longer deal.

Bennett, off-contract this year, will meet with South Sydney officials in the coming weeks to discuss a return as head coach of the Rabbitohs in 2025 following Jason Demetriou’s sacking.

Former greats turned pundits, such as Gorden Tallis, have questioned why the Dolphins would let Bennett leave next year with the side in the top four.

Dolphins CEO Terry Reader is aware of the commentary but said “nothing has changed” since Bennett was involved in setting up the club in late 2021.

From the get-go, Bennett agreed to come on board for the planning year in 2022 and then coach in the NRL for 2023 and 2024 before handing over to his assistant Kristian Woolf in 2025.

“From day one Wayne said he would wait until 2024 and work out whether he wanted to still be a head coach,” Reader said.

“Now he had got to that point and he wants to keep doing it, but he knew that was never going to be at the Dolphins.”

“Wayne was always part of putting together the plan we have and has never once changed from that. From our point of view as a club, nothing has changed.

“We had to work out a system we were both happy with about who would come in (after) Wayne. Kristian Woolf was the answer both from the club and Wayne’s point of view. 

“Wayne, to his credit, wanted to make sure we had the right structure and right people, and have credibility about how we were set up so that players knew at least five years down the track what was in front of them.”

Reader said at “no stage” had Bennett asked to coach in 2025 and delay Woolf’s succession.

“It shows the character of the coach and the man,” Reader said.

“It was about putting the right people in place. We got Kristian who Wayne was involved in (appointing).

“Kristian is not an assistant coach, he knows how to be a head coach.

“He has won three Super League premierships and turned Tonga into what they are, so very different from the previous clubs where Wayne has finished.”

Reader also said Bennett was never going to be, and never wanted to be, Dolphins director of football or coaching in 2025. 

The Dolphins did have a role for him, the details of which are now a moot point.

“The person who doesn’t believe in those positions more than anyone is probably Wayne,” Reader said.

“He was possibly going to be involved in our corporate side and work with us on our academies and our footprint all the way from Rockhampton to Brisbane, but never as director of coaching. 

“The detail around (Bennett’s role) we would have gone into with him, but that is irrelevant because Wayne had to decide whether he’d had enough of coaching first, and he clearly hasn’t.”