Wednesday, February 8, 2023

Wayne Bennett steps down as Queensland Maroons coach, replacement needed

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Wayne Bennett has stepped down as Queensland coach to focus on winning a prime minister in his last season at the helm of the Rabbitohs, reports NRL.com.

After taking over the role of coach of the Maroons on short notice last year following the appointment of Kevin Walters as coach of the Broncos, Bennett once again became a savior for his state as he led Queensland to one of the most unlikely series victories in home state history.

That left the head coach, now 71, with a huge decision to make, with the Queensland Rugby League tending to revert to the old part-time coaching model, allowing Bennett to lead both the Rabbitohs and Queensland.

However, they are now unlikely to continue that model with QRL President Bruce Hatcher confirming to NRL.com that Bennett is gone.

“About a week after the origin, Wayne indicated that he wanted to focus on the Rabbitohs,” Hatcher said.

“He said right away that he was always ready to help, and people who think he’s lost his enthusiasm don’t know him.

“But he was very grateful to the Rabbitohs for giving him the opportunity last year and now he wants to focus on 2021 and give him a big shake this year.”

Bennett’s decision to relinquish this position will force QRL’s Board of Directors to go through a thorough process to find a more permanent solution.

Queensland icon Evil Meninga joined Bennett on the coaching staff last year, but he might not be available to return to the top-level position due to his commitments to the Kangaroos, given that tryouts are back in the schedule in 2021 after a break last year.

Bennett is one of the few NRL coaches who wield enough power over his club to be given the green light to juggle his daytime club job with an intensive six-week flurry in an Origin tracksuit.

This fact will likely force QRL to move away from the 16 NRL coaches as it shapes its field of candidates for the post in Queensland.

Unemployed premier coach Paul Green should be seen as the first favorite to be named Maroons coach after being overlooked last year when Bennett threw his hat in the ring.

Home State Highlights: QLD v NSW – Game III

QRL manager Rob Moore confirmed to NRL.com that the search for a new coach will begin this month. Hatcher said the QRL would like to make an appointment by February.

“We will have the same process as for the nomination of Wayne for the new one, with a committee of three [QRL] directors going through this process, ”Moore told NRL.com.

While Green is the most obvious candidate to take on the role, Neil Henry can also be considered after playing a big role in last year’s series victory as a member of Bennett’s coaching staff.

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