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The Roar


'I'll be unemployed looking at all options': Bennett puts hand up for mission to take down Kangaroos

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3rd December, 2023

Record-breaking coach Wayne Bennett is keen to hear from the New Zealand Rugby League over potentially taking over as Kiwis coach following Michael Maguire’s resignation in a mission to take down the Kangaroos at the next World Cup.

Bennett was famously an assistant to Stephen Kearney when the Kiwis upset Australia in the 2008 final at Brisbane and with his Dolphins tenure running out at the end of the 2024 season as part of a succession plan with Kristian Woolf, the veteran mentor is open to offers.

“I don’t know what the end of the year holds for me but I’ll be finishing up as head coach of the Dolphins, so I’ll be unemployed and looking at all my options,” he said in an interview with The Australian on the weekend.

The 73-year-old explained that the reason he helped the Kiwis 15 years ago was because “the media were bagging the international game and saying it was just a walkover for Australia”.

BRISBANE, AUSTRALIA - NOVEMBER 22: (L-R) Assistant Kiwis coach Wayne Bennett and Kiwis captain Nathan Cayless hold aloft the world cup trophy after winning the 2008 Rugby League World Cup Final match between the Australian Kangaroos and the New Zealand Kiwis at Suncorp Stadium on November 22, 2008 in Brisbane, Australia. (Photo by Cameron Spencer/Getty Images)

Wayne Bennett and Kiwis captain Nathan Cayless hold aloft the World Cup trophy in 2008. (Photo by Cameron Spencer/Getty Images)

The emergence of Tonga and Samoa at international level has reinvigorated the international game in recent years and with Australia and New Zealand likely to host the next World Cup in 2026, Bennett guiding the Kiwis into the tournament would be a promoter’s dream.

He’s had a tense relationship with Kangaroos coach Mal Meninga over the years and if he took up the Kiwi gig, he could be plotting against several players he has coached at club and Origin level like Cameron Munster, Latrell Mitchell, Hamiso Tabuai-Fidow, Harry Grant and Tino Fa’asuamaleaui.

“I’m not retired yet so if the Kiwis are interested, I’m certainly open to it,” Bennett added.


“I’ve got a history with New Zealand. I have great affection for the Kiwis, I coach several of their guys at the Dolphins in the (Jesse and Kenny) Bromwich boys and Jamayne Isaako.

“The door is certainly open for me. If it’s an option for the New Zealand Rugby League, they know where to find me.”

New Zealand have overwhelmingly appointed home-grown coaches over the years apart from Maguire and Daniel Anderson.

Former Kiwi stars Stacey Jones and Nathan Cayless are current NRL assistants who will also be under consideration for the NZRL with a decision on Maguire’s successor likely to be made early in the new year after he quit to focus on the NSW State of Origin job.