The Courier-Mail

Bennett impact deserves to be rewarded with coach of the year award

- PAUL MALONE

VOTERS in the Dally M Awards get to address one of its most glaring anomalies by making Wayne Bennett coach of the year.

Seven-time premiershi­p winner Bennett has won the honour outright once – in 2000 – during his 29-year top-tier career and shared it with Raiders co-coach Don Furner in 1987.

While Bennett is not the sort of man who looks at his trophies in his office and decides it’s high time someone polished them, he’s fully de- serving of the 2015 award to be presented in grand final week.

It was not until his seventh premiershi­p, with St George Illawarra in 2010, that Bennett’s appreciati­on by Sydney commentato­rs and media pundits was in line with his achieve- ments. All too often, praise for his Broncos success was characteri­sed by Paul Vautin’s line on one grand final telecast that he’d have liked to see how Bennett went with fewer stars than he had in Brisbane.

Coaches being coaches and the judges being ex-players (they used to be reporters), I believe personalit­ies have played a part in the voting in some years.

Hands up, I was one who thought last year that Brisbane’s future was best served by appointing the best credential­ed young coach they could find.

Another coach would have made different decisions, but it’s fair to say another man would not have made the immediate impact in recruiting Bennett managed in his first off-season back in the saddle.

Anthony Milford was recruited on Anthony Griffin’s watch. But the 396 games of NRL knowledge which Darius Boyd and Adam Blair brought at Bennett’s beckoning has been sewn into the seams of the 2015 Broncos.

Blair, who has played 20 matches out of 24 for his third club, has been a success beyond reasonable prediction­s.

As well as the grunt of life as a prop, he has helped to round out Bennett’s passing game among the forwards which have not been a feature of most of his teams over the years.

It’s possible some of us have forgotten a little how intolerabl­e Boyd’s 2014 was off the field.

To see how consistent­ly Boyd has presented a cheerful face at Broncos training reflects credit on himself and also, as a secondary considerat­ion, the theory that clubs can make life easier for troubled men.

Not that Brisbane have not had setbacks.

Boyd’s pre-season achilles tendon rupture cost him eight games. Prop Josh McGuire suffered the same injury 10 weeks out from the finals.

But as Bennett said last week, “the good times are about to start’’.

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