Queensland and Wayne Bennett could part ways despite 2020 State of Origin miracle
The rugby league world is still heaping praise on Queensland’s shock 2020 State of Origin victory but the QRL chairman Bruce Hatcher has revealed super coach Wayne Bennett could lose the top job for next season.
Less than 24 hours after one of the more inspirational victories as the Queensland downed NSW 20-14 at Suncorp Stadium to end a two-year Blues dominance, Bennett has been heavily praised for his performance.
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Bennett was handed the reins of the Maroons for the fourth stint after Kevin Walters relinquished the role to take on the Brisbane Broncos’ top job.
While it was expected that Bennett would be looking at just one year at the helm, he blooded 14 debutants and still snared the series after wins in game one and game three to break the Blues’ two-year streak.
NSW was expected to pull off a clean sweep but an inexperienced Queensland side left the Blues stunned with a stunning performance.
The Queensland side was labelled “the worst Queensland team in history” with Maroons captain Daly Cherry-Evans touching on the sledge in his victory speech as he claimed the Origin Shield.
But while the performance on the field was a big talking point, Bennett has been widely praised, with Maroons great Cooper Cronk calling it “his greatest coaching performance”.
Daly Cherry-Evans with Wayne Bennett.Source:Supplied
Maroons forward Jai Arrow revealed he had a simple message before the game.
“He said ‘I want you to have a go tonight, don’t leave anything in the tank’, and walked out,” he said. “And we paused for a second and said ‘is that it’?”
Ben Ikin also told SEN that Bennett was a “coaching genius”, heaping credit on the 70-year-old mentor.
“I had great confidence that they’d be able to play at the level they showed us this series because we had the greatest rugby league coach that’s ever been in charge,” Ikin said.
“He comes from a generation where coaches leave space for players to do their thing, and Wayne’s certainly in that mould. It’s a less-is-more approach, he just knows what to say and when to get players in the mood.”
Vision was shared throughout the day that saw Bennett giving instructions at halftime, while Blues coach Brad Fittler walked around with his hands in his pockets.
But despite pulling off another Origin miracle, Queensland Rugby League have announced review of their Origin program to The Courier Mail with the modern Origin coach rarely holding an NRL and Origin role at the same time.
While Hatcher said he hoped Bennett could stay on, the QRL could also move on from the legendary coach.
“I can’t dispute Wayne’s resume and his remarkable record, but I have to say we are still going to the open market for a coach for next year and beyond,” Hatcher said. “I can’t stop singing Wayne’s praises but we are doing a review of our whole Origin program.
“We are bringing people in externally and we will have three directors who will review the whole thing, then the board will make a decision on what went well and what didn’t go so well. We have always favoured someone who doesn’t have an NRL coaching job.
“The reality is Wayne has responsibilities to Souths next season and with the Origin series returning to its traditional format, this is a major consideration.
The players love Wayne Bennett.Source:Supplied
“It’s hard to fault what has just gone on, and I’m so pleased Wayne has proved his critics wrong, but equally we must keep our feet on the ground and not get too emotional about things.
“I’d love to see Wayne throw his hat in the ring, but we will be considering coaches without NRL ties, like Paul Green, so there’s no guarantee Wayne will be there next year.”
The Maroons players have been full of praise for the master coach throughout the series.
But Bennett himself suggested he might walk away from the job.
“I’m sitting on the fence right now,” he said in his post-match press conference.
“It’s not a good time for me to make decisions about anything after such an emotional three weeks. I’m not in a great place to make a definitive call without a clear mind.
“I will talk to Souths. The important thing is I feel I owe Souths a great deal so they are my first priority. If it can’t be done again, well I will have to walk away, but I will never forget this opportunity and I will always be grateful for it.
“It was 17 years since I coached my last Origin game and I never thought I would get the call-up again. I’ve loved being a part of it.”
Doesn’t Powerade come in Maroon?Source:Supplied
Speaking on Fox Sports News on Thursday, Kevin Walters said Bennett should have the job sewn up.
“That’s remains to be seen,” Walters said. “He’s done a great job this year so obviously that job is his unless something comes up with South Sydney. He’s has done a great job Wayne. His demeanour suits the State of Origin arena as well, he’s very calm, very influential around the players which you need to be, and he led the way for these younger ones. Great for Wayne to come in a do but also great for the players to respond to him in the way that only Queenslanders can.”
Hatcher revealed the QRL would like to sign up a coach by February.
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