Bennett says goodbye to fans in Brisbane - Sports News - Fanatics - the world's biggest events

Bennett says goodbye to fans in Brisbane

By Jim Morton 06/09/2008 06:28:34 AM Comments (0)

It wasn't pretty but the Broncos delivered a fitting Brisbane farewell for foundation coach Wayne Bennett at Suncorp Stadium.

Bennett ended his 21-year club association with the old Lang Park on the right note with his men triumphing 24-2 over an out-of-sorts Newcastle.

The dominant victory was capped by a public show of appreciation by the 37,552-strong crowd for Bennett before a touching big-screen tribute.

But, addressing them from a mid-ground stage with his son Justin, the normally taciturn and reserved coach turned the thanks around.

"I've never been big on accolades if you know me but tonight I'd like to give an accolade to you, the fans," he said after his team ran in five tries.

"In my 21 years here you have been absolutely wonderful.

"We have always played for you. It started in the early days with Wally Lewis and Gene Miles and then Kevin Walters and Allan Langer.

"It was always about the fans. You have been wonderful to myself and the club and I thank you very, very much."

Bennett was also full of thanks to the 140-plus players he'd coached in his time at the club, which will end after this year's finals when he moves to Sydney to lead St George Illawarra.

Many of them were on hand for a guard of honour tonight.

"They've made it a lot easier and I've been very privileged to coach them in a football team you can be proud of," he said.

Bennett's record since the club's inception in 1988 is without peer: six premierships, 524 matches with 334 wins at a remarkable 68 per cent success rate.

He this week rated fullback Karmichael Hunt the bravest among all the Broncos he coached and Hunt stood up again with a brilliant individual display.

The 21-year-old, the youngest to a century of first-grade starts, was stand-out man-of-the-match after scoring a try and setting up three others.

It wasn't one of the most dazzling Broncos wins among the 334 victories, but it ranked extremely highly in importance for the players who desperate to repay their mentor.

Broncos great Shane Webcke, who played all his club career under Bennett, said pre-match the stony-faced coach would doubtless be affected by the farewell from 30,000-plus home fans.

"He won't show a lot of emotion but you can bet he will be feeling it. Twenty-one years at the one club is a long time.

"But Wayne being Wayne, he won't show it."

Bennett congratulated his troops after the game and even shared a hug and joke with rival coach Brian Smith.

Long-time Bronco Tonie Carroll was also farewelled in his last regular-season match, signing off with a missed conversion after full-time.

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