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Bennett beats media with Wollongong move

By Todd Balym 03/02/2009 07:19:38 PM Comments (0)

Elusive coach Wayne Bennett now knows you can't run but you can hide.

Infamous for dodging the media with his backdoor exit at Brisbane Airport following Australia's 2005 Tri Nations loss, Bennett has since found a better way to avoid the media altogether - move to Wollongong.

The new St George Illawarra coach was on Tuesday boasting at the fact his training sessions are no longer daily events for journalists.

While it used to take journalists just 10 minutes to travel from the city to Brisbane's Red Hill training base it is now over an hour for Sydney media to reach the Dragons home at WIN Stadium in Wollongong.

"Every training session I did for 21 years at the Broncos I had at least one journalist or half a dozen there. I've hardly seen one in Wollongong. I enjoy that," Bennett quipped.

It is ideal for Bennett to have isolation as he attempts to rebuild the red and whites into an NRL premiership force.

Bennett, who coached Brisbane for 21 years and to six premierships, knows his performance at the Dragons is going to be heavily scrutinised in 2009 but he bristled at the idea it could be the story of the year.

"Well you can write it but I won't contribute to it," he said.

Bennett offered a flat "no" when asked if he'd made any adjustments to his own style to adapt to his new club but left no doubt he's confident his old ways will be successful for the Dragons.

"I know what I'm capable of," he said.

"The boys are working pretty hard but there is still much to be done.

"We have had good days and not so good days.

"I'm enjoying it, I enjoy getting down there and the guys I'm working with."

The players are certainly enjoying Bennett's influence, veteran Dean Young excited by the changes at the club over the summer.

"Our whole approach has changed. Wayne changed the whole staff. Players like myself, Ben Hornby and Matt Cooper, guys who have been here seven or eight years, it is a great change for us," said Young.

"We are happy with how things are going. It's been a hard preseason but very enjoyable."

Young is one of several candidates to take over the captaincy vacated by Mark Gasnier, although Bennett will not rush into the decision.

He won't do that until closer to the season start with the Dragons to play three trial matches - against Roosters, Bulldogs and South Sydney - before round one.

The other question facing Bennett in the coming weeks is whether to remain on the New Zealand Test team coaching staff after assisting Stephen Kearney and the Kiwis to last year's shock World Cup win.

"That is a decision I have to make pretty soon," he said.

"I said to myself I would get down here first and see how I felt about it."

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