Two- horse race for Bennett
NATHAN Tinkler’s probable takeover of Newcastle looms as the only potential obstacle t o ma s t e r c o a c h Wa y n e Bennett returning to Brisbane for an NRL farewell at the club he helped build.
Be n n e t t y e s t e r d a y c o n - firmed what had long been s u s p e c t e d w h e n h e a n - nounced 2011 would be his last year with St George Illawarra.
The seven-time premiership winner admitted a sense of ‘‘ job done’’ after ending the club’s 31-year title drought last year.
With South Sydney all but resigned to having missed out o n b r i n g i n g B e n n e t t t o Redfern, the lure of joining Tinkler’s Newcastle revolution is the only other realistic option apart from a return to the Broncos.
Newcastle members will vote tonight on whether to accept Tinkler’s $ 100 million offer to privatise the club.
The mining magnate has done little to hide the fact he wants Bennett at the helm from 2012 should his takeover be successful.
Bennett was giving little away during his announcement in Wollongong, only to say that at 61 his desire coach remained strong.
‘‘ I still enjoy coaching, I don’t want to go home and sit around and do nothing,’’ said Bennett, who admitted he first realised in June last year that he was unlikely to stay on at the Dragons when he
to rejected a new offer with the club. ‘‘ I’ve met too many guys in my age group that had great jobs and loved what they did and thought retirement would be better – retirement’s not better.
‘‘ I’m not a golfer, I’m not a socialiser – I enjoy coaching and while I enjoy coaching I’ll keep doing it.
‘ ‘ I didn’t come here ( St George Illawarra) as a longterm coach, I came here to get a job done, I believe that has been done and I think it’s a good time for me to move on.’’
Bennett denied Tinkler’s deep pockets were a motivating factor, saying, ‘‘ If it was about money, I wouldn’t be leaving here,’’ but he would also know the Broncos – as a publicly listed company – would not be able to match any offer the Knights put forward, given they have to jus- t i f y t heir expenditure shareholders.
There has also been speculation Bennett – with six titles with the Broncos and one with the Dragons – has a strong desire to become the first coach to win premierships with three different clubs, but he was quick to hose down that suggestion.
‘‘ It’s like coming to Sydney – it’s not on my radar,’’ Bennett said of the multi-club challenge.
‘‘ I didn’t have to come to Sydney to prove myself . . . that was never my motivation, and my motivation is not to win premierships with three different clubs.
‘‘ I feel blessed with what I’ve done and if I never win another premiership, I won’t go to sleep with any regrets.’’
Brisbane chief executive Paul White confirmed the club had spoken to Bennett about his plans for 2012.
‘‘ We’re in there talking to him,’’ White said, cautious not t o raise expectations given t he genuine t hreat posed by the Knights.
‘‘ We wouldn’t be in negotiations with Wayne if we weren’t very serious about getting him back to the club.’’