23rd April 2020, 15:59 | 125
The latest #RFL125 poll is now live and voting is open for the Greatest Coach!
There are five legendary coaches up for selection and the fourth is Wayne Bennett who has enjoyed success in both hemispheres on the domestic and international stages.
Wayne Bennett’s first domestic coaching role came in the form of the joint-coach of Canberra Raiders alongside Don Furner. He helped guide the Raiders to their first-ever Grand Final with play-off victories over South Sydney Rabbitohs and Eastern Suburb Roosters, but they eventually fell to defeat in the Grand Final to Manly-Warringah Sea Eagles.
After a successful season with the Raiders, Bennett moved into his first solo coaching role as the first-ever Head Coach of the newly formed Brisbane Broncos in 1988.
His first trophies as Head Coach of Brisbane would come in 1992 as the Broncos won the Minor Premiership comfortably finishing six points clear of nearest challengers St George Dragons. A win over the Illawarra Steelers and 28-8 victory over St George in the Grand Final saw Brisbane complete the domestic double under Bennett.
It would become a treble one month later however as Brisbane travelled to Wigan to compete for the World Club Challenge. A double from Michael Hancock alongside tries from Julian O’Neill and Kerrod Walters saw the Broncos lift their first world title and complete an historic treble.
Another Premiership would follow in 1993, despite the Broncos finishing the regular season in 5th position. Four consecutive play-off victories against Manly-Warringah Sea Eagles, Canberra Raiders, Canterbury-Bankstown Bulldogs and St George Dragons - a repeat of the 1992 final - saw them lift the title.
Brisbane’s most successful spell in their history would come between 1997 and 2000 in a period which saw them lift three out of the four Premierships and Minor Premierships as well as the 1997 World Club Challenge.
Bennett’s second treble in 1997 saw the club coast the Minor Premiership by five points before two comfortable play-off victories over Cronulla Sharks confirmed their position as Premiers. The 1997 World Club Challenge was contested throughout the year by 22 teams with the Broncos toppling fellow Australian side Hunter Mariners in an October final.
Another domestic double followed in 1998 with a Grand Final victory over Canterbury Bulldogs with the Broncos running in seven tries in an impressive display. They repeated the double two years later thanks to a much tighter 14-6 Grand Final triumph over Sydney Roosters. Wendell Sailor and Lote Tuqiri were the scorers.
Bennett’s final Premiership with Brisbane came in 2006 as they caused a Grand Final shock against Melbourne Storm, who had finished 12 points ahead of the Broncos in the regular season. Darren Lockyer’s success with the boot proving the difference between the sides.
After twenty seasons at Brisbane, and almost 550 games in charge, Bennett would move to pastures new. However, a second stint with the Broncos would follow between 2015 and 2018 in which an extra-time drop-goal from Johnathan Thurston would prevent Bennett lifting a seventh Premiership.
Bennett’s first job away from Brisbane came in the form of Head Coach of St George Illawarra Dragons. His first season in charge in 2009 saw him lift the Minor Premiership with just six points separating the top six sides in the NRL. However, a Semi-Final defeat to his former side Brisbane would end Illawarra’s hopes of a Premiership.
But Bennett would take them one step further in 2010 as St George once again won the Minor Premiership before going on to win their first-ever Grand Final. The Dragons beat Manly and Wests Tigers on route to the final before blowing Sydney Roosters away with a 32-8 win at ANZ Stadium.
Between 2012 and 2014, Bennett would spend three seasons with Newcastle Knights and managed to take them within 80 minutes of a Grand Final during the 2013 season. Following a 7th place finish, a 40-14 loss to Sydney Roosters prevented Bennett from making a Grand Final with a third NRL side.
Following another spell with Brisbane, Bennett would take the reins at South Sydney Rabbitohs. He guided the club to a 3rd place finish in the NRL but would once again fall just short of a Grand Final with a third different NRL side following a 16-10 play-off defeat to Canberra Raiders.
Bennett has had three separate spells in charge of the Queensland Origin side and has won four of the seven series’ he’s been involved with, drawing one and losing two.
He led Queensland to consecutive series victories in 1987 and 1988 including a whitewash in the latter. He won the 1998 series 2-1 before an identical result followed in 2001. A drawn 2002 series was followed by a 2-1 defeat to New South Wales.
Bennett coached Australia in both 2004 and 2005 and lifted the 2004 Tri-Nations with a 4-44 hammering of Great Britain at Elland Road, Leeds. However, Bennett suffered a 24-0 defeat in the final of the 2005 competition against New Zealand.
Bennett was appointed as England Head Coach in 2016 and guided the side to their first World Cup Final since 1995. England would fall to a 6-0 defeat at the hands of Australia in the final.
He also lifted the Albert Baskerville Shield in 2018 with a 2-1 series win over New Zealand. Bennett would go on to coach Great Britain in their 2019 Oceania Tour but failed to win a game against the Kiwis, Tonga and Papua New Guinea.
Vote for the Greatest Coach here!