What makes Wayne NRL’s most wanted? Just ask the Dragons

Townsville Bulletin - - Rugby League -

MAS­TER coach Wayne Bennett could lose the rest of his games in charge at St Ge­orge Illawarra and still be feted as a Dragons hero.

He has al­ready achieved so much for the club that any­thing more would be a bonus.

It’s why Bris­bane, New­cas­tle, North Queens­land and South Syd­ney are all clam­our­ing for his ser­vices – the NRL su­per­coach who lives and breathes suc­cess.

Bennett’s ac­com­plish­ment in de­liv­er­ing the 2010 pre­mier­ship to long-suf­fer­ing Dragons fans only tells part of what he has ac­com­plished at the joint ven­ture, which he will leave at the end of 2011.

This was an or­gan­i­sa­tion where years of po­ten­tial was wasted by play­ers, coach­ing staff and of­fi­cials who seemed more adept at cre­at­ing head­lines off the field than win­ning on it.

The pre-Bennett Dragons al­ways had the tal­ent to chal­lenge for a pre­mier­ship, but never, it seemed, the for­ti­tude to carry through with the task.

There was a per­cep­tion in rugby league cir­cles that if you stayed in the con­test long enough against them, the Dragons would wilt.

Not un­der Bennett – with back-to-back mi­nor pre­mier­ships and a grand fi­nal tri­umph as proof.

Gone, too, were the off-field ru­mours and in­nu­endo as Bennett as­sumed the role of sole au­thor­ity.

He as­sem­bled a play­ing ros­ter that be­came the envy of the league, as play­ers once con­sid­ered fringe first-graders were

Wayne Bennett trans­formed into Ori­gin stars. That’s the ef­fect Bennett can have.

It’s why min­ing mag­nate Nathan Tin­kler wants him at New­cas­tle in 2012.

And it’s why the Bron­cos would dearly love to see him re­turn and put the club back on the track that saw them make 17 straight fi­nals cam­paigns un­der his watch.

The Knights brought in Brian Smith in 2007 to clean out the joint, but while he re­vamped the ros­ter, he was un­able to at­tract the tal­ent to de­liver suc­cess.

Imag­ine the pos­si­bil­i­ties of unit­ing Bennett’s pulling power and foot­balling prow­ess with Tin­kler’s bulging wal­let.

Add the likes of Ja­mal Idris, Kade Snow­den and Dar­ius Boyd to a squad that al­ready boasts Kurt Gi­d­ley, Jar­rod Mullen, Akuila Uate, Neville Costi­gan and ex­cit­ing young­ster Beau Henry, and who would bet against that lot go­ing all the way next sea­son?

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