Wily old Wayne prepares to have last laugh at Broncos’ home
IN Wayne they trust.
Souths super coach Wayne Bennett has re-written the record books by chalking-up his 10th grand-final appearance as his Rabbitohs powered into the NRL decider with a 36-16 mauling of Manly in the preliminary final at Suncorp Stadium.
Inspired by Dally M Medal contender Cody Walker, who terrorised Manly with a two-try masterclass, and fill-in fullback Blake Taaffe, Bennett’s Bunnies were always in control against a bumbling Manly side to qualify for their first grand final since their 2014 title triumph.
With Walker ably supported by razor-sharp rake Damien Cook, Souths became the first side into the decider and they will face the winner of Saturday’s Penrith-Melbourne clash in Sunday week’s NRL grand final at Suncorp.
For Bennett, this was a glorious exclamation mark to his status as the greatest coach in rugby league history. The Broncos bosses who sacked him three years ago – leading to his coaching lifeline at Souths – should hang their heads in shame.
At 71, age cannot weary the wily old fox. In his final game as Souths coach next week, Bennett shapes as the talismanic X-factor in the Pride of the League’s quest for a 22nd premiership. As Souths sliced and diced a Sea Eagles outfit too sloppy to give fullback superstar Tom Trbojevic the latitude to run riot on Friday night, Bennett smashed records like plates at a Greek wedding.
Aside from celebrating his 10th decider, Bennett became the first coach in history to take four clubs (Canberra, the Broncos, the Dragons and Souths) to a grand final.
If Souths salute next week, Bennett will become the only mentor to hoist the premiership with three teams after six titles at the Broncos and his most recent triumph with St George Illawarra 11 years ago.