Kearney laughs off 'dump Bennett' call - Sports News - Fanatics - the world's biggest events

Kearney laughs off 'dump Bennett' call

By Laine Clark 18/11/2008 10:02:15 AM Comments (0)

A call to ditch Wayne Bennett from the Kiwi rugby league support staff has been laughed off by head coach Stephen Kearney.

And Kiwi dangerman Lance Hohaia says the six-time NRL premiership winning coach should be able to stay on and assist Kearney for as long as he wants.

Former New Zealand skipper Matthew Ridge ruffled Kiwi feathers with his Sunday newspaper column calling for Bennett to be dumped and replaced by Tony Iro.

Ridge said he found it "unsettling" that an Australian was aiding a New Zealand rugby league coach and believed it would be a case of "too many cooks" if Bennett hung around.

Kearney was bemused when Ridge's comments were brought up at Kiwi training in Brisbane ahead of this weekend's World Cup final showdown with Australia at Suncorp Stadium.

"Thankfully he is the one not making the decisions," Kearney said of Ridge.

Bennett answered an SOS from the NZRL to mentor Kearney after a player mutiny ended Gary Kemble's disastrous - and short - reign as coach.

Hohaia said New Zealand should embrace Bennett's input - not turn him away.

"Whether he is involved or not should be entirely up to him in the future," he said.

"I have learned a lot off him in the five weeks I have been involved with him.

"He (Ridge) is entitled to his opinion but I have loved having Wayne in the camp.

"I am sure if he wants to stay on and be involved with the Kiwis he is more than welcome."

Hohaia said Bennett and Kearney had formed a perfect fit in the New Zealand camp.

"Stephen is a relatively new coach and Wayne has been around since the dinosaurs," he said.

"But Wayne and Steve complement each other quite well.

"They have contrasting styles but that is a good thing because they work well together - having his (Bennett's) experience is awesome."

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