Fans should respect Bennett, says Henjak - Sports News - Fanatics - the world's biggest events

Fans should respect Bennett, says Henjak

By Wayne Heming 02/04/2009 05:10:06 PM Comments (0)

Rookie NRL coach Ivan Henjak has appealed to Brisbane fans to give Wayne Bennett a stirring homecoming at Suncorp Stadium on Friday night.

After 21 straight seasons and six premierships with Brisbane, Bennett returns at the helm of a St George Illawarra side hoping to halt the Broncos' hot start to 2009 under Henjak.

While some fans were bitterly disappointed Bennett opted to leave the Broncos earlier than intended, Henjak believes they should still show him the respect he's earned and deserves.

"I think Wayne will get a huge cheer," Henjak said on Thursday.

"He's been a wonderful servant to this club .... six premierships and I hope he gets the applause that he deserves."

Henjak, who has had the perfect start to his coaching career with three wins, was relaxed and comfortable with his preparation when asked about Bennett's role in promoting the big game.

"It's one of his great strengths," said Henjak, his tongue firmly planted in his cheek.

"I've enjoyed his every word.

"I've learned a hell of a lot off him in the last week."

Jokes aside, Henjak appears to have enjoyed "Wayne's Week".

"Wayne deserves to get all the accolades that should be coming his way," he said after wrapping preparations in heavy rain threatening to cut into the match attendance.

The NRL, or more specifically its major backers Channel 9, haven't helped by ordering a 6.30pm (Queensland time) kick off to allow the game to be streamed live into Sydney at 7.30pm daylight saving time.

It makes it difficult for supporters to finish work, get home, pick up their kids and get out to the game.

Had it been scheduled on Sunday afternoon, Suncorp Stadium's 50,000 capacity would have been tested.

"There'll be a Wayne factor but, outside of the Cowboys, St George have been our best drawing game," said Brisbane chief executive Bruno Cullen.

"They bring a lot of tradition and history with them and they have a very active St George supporters base they fire up.

"Unfortunately, the 6.30pm kick off hurts fans.

"Had it been a Sunday afternoon game I reckon we were looking down the barrel of a complete and utter sellout."

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