The headline is a question many people have asked in recent times.
Wayne Bennett has been known for his high reputation with success, from taking the Brisbane Broncos to seven grand finals with six wins to taking the St George Illawarra Dragons to their sole grand final win.
He has seven wins in eight grand finals as a sole head coach (I can’t dismiss getting Canberra to the 1987 grand final against Manly), so overall it’s seven from nine. If you take a look at the sides he won premierships with, they were full of representative stars.
Here we are in 2020, ten years after 2010 when Bennett last coached a side to win the grand final, his longest drought.
Since his first departure from the Brisbane Broncos, let’s run the gauntlet of his journey.
1. St George Illawarra Dragons
2009: minor premiers and eliminated from the finals in the second week
2010: minor premiers and won the big game
2011: fifth and eliminated from the finals in the second week
The aftermath: They’ve only made the finals twice since, with one win in the finals. They are losing a lot of rep footy players and are really in the trenches. I won’t deny all the drama with Jack de Belin hasn’t been good for them but the Dragons have struggled massively since Bennett left.
2. Newcastle Knights
2013: seventh and eliminated in the preliminary final
The aftermath: the Newcastle Knights haven’t seen finals footy since his departure and even more so, their track record says it all. The first three seasons without him saw them with the wooden spoon and 2018 and 2019 saw them placed 11th. Despite Nathan Tinkler’s vision with Bennett, it was poorly delivered and left the Knights looking worse than Peter Weller in the opening scene of Robocop. If I count every full season since, the record is 86 losses (including a 19-match losing streak), 33 wins and one draw.
Thankfully, Nathan Brown rebuilt the team and Adam O’Brien has shown he is the coach the club needs.
3. Brisbane Broncos
2015: second and runners-up
2016: fifth and eliminated in the semi-finals
2017: third and eliminated in the preliminary finals
2018: sixth and eliminated in the qualifying finals
The aftermath: since swapping with Anthony Seibold at Redfern, Wayne Bennett left him with a somewhat decent roster… or did he? Last year Brisbane pumped into the finals only to get their record-breaking loss at the time in the first week of the finals, losing 58-0 against Parramatta, the biggest loss in finals history. In 2020, they’re struggling massively. They have broken the record for the biggest loss and it was on their home soil of Lang Park. If Brisbane somehow make the finals this year, then Funky Town must be a real place.
Does anyone here see a pattern? He comes to St George Illawarra Dragons, leaves and they struggled. He comes to the Newcastle Knights, leaves and they struggled. He comes to the Brisbane Broncos, leaves and they’re struggling.
Wayne Bennett isn’t a super coach, he’s a super fraud. For anyone who gets excited with Bennett coming to coach your team, I wouldn’t, because when old man Bennett comes to town, he’s bringing the shovel with him because he will go on to bury your team and leave them in the dirt, leaving someone else to dig them from the trenches.
Let’s take a look at South Sydney right now after eight games.
In 2019, they sat first with seven wins and one loss. In 2020, they’re ninth with four wins and four losses.
I wouldn’t be surprised if they missed the eight this year. So to all the South Sydney fans, be wary. When Bennett is with your team, they will struggle massively.
Look at how he treated the Knights. He paid massive overs and long-term contracts to players who are set to retire and pushed away some juniors. He did the same to Brisbane and is doing the same to South Sydney.
This is the pattern I have discovered.