Unfinished business: Wayne seals Souths three-year deal

Joel Gould |

Wayne Bennett will return to coach the Rabbitohs next season on a three-year deal.
Wayne Bennett will return to coach the Rabbitohs next season on a three-year deal.

Wayne Bennett  has signed a three-year deal at South Sydney and will return to the club next year with a spring in his step to work with a side he insists can go places.

Dolphins coach Bennett, 74, told AAP on Tuesday morning he has unfinished business at the club he coached to to two preliminary finals and a grand final from 2019-2021.

“I am going back to Souths for three years,” Bennett said.

“I like the people there and I like the club and what it stands for.

“I know a number of the players. There is some good talent there and we can do something.

“I just want to get back there and I like that part of Sydney as well. It is easy to live there.”

Wayne Bennett.
Wayne Bennett calling the shots during a 2018 Rabbitohs training session at Redfern Oval. (Joel Carrett/AAP PHOTOS)

When asked if he had unfinished business, he said there “was in a way”.

He will take over a club that is currently in last place on the NRL ladder.

Bennett has always stated that success starts in the front office, and he has a close relationship with CEO Blake Solly and chairman Nick Pappas.

“I have a good rapport with everybody there,” he said.

“I had a great three years there and I am looking forward to going back.”

In a statement, Rabbitohs chairman Nick Pappas said the club was hopeful the seven-time premiership-winning coach could go one better than the heartbreak of the 2021 grand final.

“On behalf of the board of the Rabbitohs we look forward to welcoming Wayne back to the club, and to finishing off what we got so close to achieving in 2021,” Pappas said.

Bennett has confirmed he will keep current interim head coach Ben Hornby on the coaching staff. 

He has spoken at length about how much he enjoys coaching Latrell Mitchell and Cody Walker, and getting those two highly influential players back to their best will be a priority.

Walker said Bennett had a certain magic.

“We can’t wait to have him at the club next year,” Walker said.

“You’ve got to be there in the moment to understand his impact on the group.

“He’s a wonderful coach and a wonderful man.

“But we can’t focus on that. Wayne’s still got a year to coach with the Dolphins and obviously we’re not travelling too well at the moment.

“We’re trying to turn our season around.”

The Rabbitohs have been unable to compete in games this year for their entirety and their physical condition has been questioned. Bennett is expected to make enhancements in the high-performance area.

Bennett has promised the Dolphins he would not raid their playing stocks, but also asserted that he would be turning his attention towards the Rabbitohs roster once his deal had been signed.

There is a feeling in the game, perpetuated by Bennett himself, that he will be carried out of coaching in a box. He said recently that he may coach beyond the age of 80 and revealed his motivations for continuing on when others his age are enjoying their retirement years by the seaside.

“If I didn’t think I had something to offer … I wouldn’t do it. That’s not the case with me,” he said.

“I would rather be doing something and making a contribution. I care about the game enormously and its people. If I can go and help a club and make them better then that is what motivates me and drives me.

“(Coaching) gives me something to do. I don’t want to sit at home and twiddle my thumbs and bore myself to death.”