Rumours of discontent at Souths have probably been greatly exaggerated, but questions remain as to whether Wayne Bennett’s coaching style will fit in at the Rabbitohs.
Bennett’s coaching style, with a more rigid disciplined approach, may not suit many of the Rabbitohs players.
The Burgess twins have typically not put in the hard yards or met statistical targets early in the NRL season, but is hard to see what options Bennett has available in this regard.
Bennett himself cannot expect to deliver a premiership in his first season as coach at Souths if his experience at the Dragons (second-year premiership), Knights (nowhere near anything) and return to the Broncos is anything to go by.
Any first year coach will need time to mold his team but, with the late preseason changeover from the Broncos, there is not much time before the season begins in March and no opportunity for hiring new players.
Bennett also brought no players with him to Souths unlike the players he poached from the Dragons when he moved to Newcastle, but Brisbane ex-assistant coach Jason Demetriou, who has moved, will provide Bennett with great support at Souths.
Bennett has also indicated Maroons skipper Greg Inglis is likely to move back to fullback, casting doubts over Alex Johnston’s place in the squad. The views of Inglis and Johnston are not known but could be contributing to the grumbling.
Souths, with no major offseason signings apart from Bennett, have limited options available and the coach will need to get more out of the existing squad than Anthony Seibold managed last year.
One also wonders how Bennett will cope with the input from 50 per cent owner Russell Crowe and how Crowe will cope with Bennett’s communication skills.
The departure of Angus Crichton to the Roosters means a reshuffle in the pack, with one of Sam Burgess and Cameron Murray, who Bennett should like with his work rate, likely to shift wider.
Cody Walker can anticipate problems with Bennett’s approach to coaching, but options are available with Adam Doueihi having played well in 2018.
I am not sure why Souths regarded Bennett essential for 2019, but it looks like his initial impact will be limited and that Souths fans will need to look forward to 2020.
The Rabbitohs play the Panthers and the Dragons in the trials which should give a good indication of where they are at in 2019.