Bennett reminds fans that patience is a virtue
Wayne Bennett might be Tinkler's big name choice but he'll also be under plenty of pressure
Wayne Bennett’s statistics speak for themselves – seven premierships with two different clubs. But arguably his toughest coaching assignment has – and will – come about in his four-year contract with the Newcastle Knights.
Bennett took the Brisbane Broncos to grand-final day on six occasions and he was victorious on six occasions. Then he took charge of the St George Illawarra Dragons, one of the most talented playing squads to never win a competition… until he got there.
The main thing about his success with the Broncos and Dragons is that both clubs (particularly the Broncos) had an ingrained successful culture, but the Dragons were perceived as chokers when push came to shove at the business end of the season.
Bennett had success at the Dragons in his second year and in the first year he took them to within one game of the grand final.
The playing roster was good; they just needed a bit of belief in themselves to get the job done.
Which brings us to the Knights.
Bennett arrived in Newcastle towards the end of last year with much fanfare.
Bells. Whistles. The whole lot.
There was a level of excitement and anticipation among the Novocastrian faithful that he was going to bring success to the town.
New owner Nathan Tinkler (with tongue firmly planted in cheek, one would suggest) told a packed news conference in the early days of Bennett’s arrival that “we’ll win four premierships”.
Halfway through season 2012 and those four premierships look a pipedream. One premiership at the moment would be happily snapped up by Knights fans, who have been crying out for some show of success in recent years.
It could be argued that Rick Stone had a way of getting the best out of his players. The playing group in 2011 had far fewer big-name players, yet Stone had them playing an enterprising style of footy which made them one of the best teams to watch.
That style of footy from just twelve months ago has largely disintegrated and been replaced by a side devoid of any attacking plays. The confidence has gone. The smiles on players’ faces have gone.
The 17 men picked by Bennett each week appear as though they would rather be elsewhere.
The fans told the story after the round 12 loss to the Titans. There were boos, moans and groans from some of the 15,792 crowd.
In the following days former players lined up to stick the boot in.
Former captain Andrew Johns told Triple M radio that “the crowd should get their money back”.
“It was disgraceful, the game. They lacked enthusiasm, they lacked commitment. They were inept,” Johns continued.
Another Knights Old Boy Marc Glanville chimed in with “this club was built around players with the three Ts – they had to be tough, they had to be able to tackle and they had to have plenty of tomorrows”.
“I reckon there are a few T’s missing in quite a few of the boys,” he added.
Twelve rounds into Bennett’s four-year contract may be too early to be pushing the panic button.
Bennett’s been here before. Perhaps it’s time to give this one a chance.
“A lot of people forget where I came from,” Bennett said.
“They look at the results but there’s been a lot of indifferent stuff over a long period of time, but at the end of the day I always get to where I want to go, and it won’t be any different here.”
“We’ll get there.”
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