Bennett likes media mind games - Sports News - Fanatics - the world's biggest events

Bennett likes media mind games

By Wayne Heming 11/04/2011 06:18:07 PM Comments (0)

He wouldn't admit it publicly but in a strange way Wayne Bennett enjoys the media mind games.

The season is only five weeks old and already many things that have happened have somehow been linked to the super coach in reports.

Take Darren Lockyer's retirement.

It wasn't simply that the champion five-eighth thought the time right to hang up his boots, it had to be because he wanted to clear the way to launch an NRL coaching career as assistant to a returning Bennett at the Broncos in 2012.

Even Bennett's own confirmation that he would not be coaching premiers St George Illawarra next season was perceived as part of the master plan for a Bennett to Lockyer coaching dynasty in Brisbane.

The deal was done and dusted screamed News Limited headlines.

Wrong.

The deal was never done - as Brisbane revealed later when reappointing Anthony Griffin for two more years.

The mind games will continue until Bennett reveals where he is headed.

With Brisbane out of the race, Newcastle are the new favourites for his services.

Money is seemingly no object for the Newcastle's billionaire white knight - mining magnate Nathan Tinkler.

If reports are on the money Tinkler has a lazy $2 million a season for Bennett should he pack his bags and move up the highway from Wollongong to a beachside apartment.

He can also have Tinkler's private jet and personal pilot to taxi him home to Brisbane quicker than he could drive from Red Hill through Brisbane's peak hour traffic for a family lamb roast.

But don't rule out Bennett ending up at movie mogul Russell Crowe's Redfern Rabbitohs.

That would be the ultimate twist.

They've kept their mouth shut - something the Sydney Roosters failed to do when they reportedly had Bennett's signature in 2006 until someone leaked it to the media and Bennett called it off.

Bennett knows which club he is going to coach in 2012, which is why he flew to Brisbane last Thursday to tell Broncos chief executive and good friend Paul White to cancel the homecoming party the club had been planning.

Bennett was quick to correct himself after the Dragons' comprehensive win over the Bulldogs at the weekend when he told a journalist he didn't know where he was going.

"Well, I do know, I just don't want to share it with you (media)," said Bennett, playing the game.

The smart money initially had been on him coming home to Brisbane.

The chance to be reunited with his wife and children, Queensland's relaxed lifestyle, his hobby farm west of Brisbane where he loves to escape whenever he can and an emotional homecoming with the Broncos.

It's easy to see why many tipped he would be back at Red Hill in 2012.

But sometimes it's the negatives that make the tough decision.

After 21 years of being the voice of rugby league and living the fish bowl existence with the Broncos in a one-team city, Bennett enjoyed being out of the spotlight and away from the daily media scrutiny with the Dragons at his Wollongong base.

In his final year at the Broncos he became increasingly fed up with being constantly sniped at in the media.

He offloaded the job of dealing with journalists to his assistant and successor Ivan Henjak, only speaking on game eve and at post-match press conferences.

To expect him to put himself back in the firing line at age 61 with little to prove at a club where he'd already won six premierships may have been underestimating him.

Bennett is driven by challenging himself.

So now it's down to two - but it's still not easy to call.

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