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Knights' new coach Bennett to meet Stone

12/04/2011 03:45:47 PM Comments (0)

Newcastle coach Rick Stone will meet with successor Wayne Bennett in the next few days to resolve his possible NRL future under the seven-time premiership winner.

The Knights on Tuesday confirmed the recruitment of Bennett on a four-year deal starting next season, his signing leaving a cloud over Stone's role with the Knights.

Bennett said he hoped to work with Stone in some capacity, but after arriving back in Newcastle following Monday night's 17-6 loss to Brisbane, the third-year Knights' mentor said he would have to reassess his future.

"I consider myself a head coach in the NRL - I may or may not have that opportunity in the near future but I suppose I'll have to wait and sit down, weigh up my options and have a talk to Wayne and see what's best for myself and my staff," Stone said.

"I've had a good chat with Wayne this morning - I'm going to meet with him hopefully in the next couple of days and sit down and talk a little bit about his plans and some of my own ambitions as well."

Bennett said his decision was based around the vision and passion of new Knights billionaire owner Nathan Tinkler combined with the lifestyle offered by Newcastle and the Hunter region.

It is believed he phoned rival contender South Sydney on Tuesday morning to inform them of his decision, having earlier declared this would be his last season finishing up with NRL premiers St George Illawarra.

"I sat down with Nathan (Tinkler) and was struck by his passion and knowledge of rugby league," said Bennett in a statement issued by the Tinkler Sports Group.

"Private ownership appeals to me. I like it. This guy wants to take Newcastle to another level.

"He wants our game to capture the imagination of the Hunter like never before - for the Knights to be the benchmark of rugby league in this country.

"That is the type of challenge that appeals to me.

"The Knights have already won two premierships and have been a great club despite struggling with their finances. And that's where Nathan Tinkler comes in."

The move means Bennett will have the chance to become the first coach to win premierships with three different clubs, having won six with Brisbane and one with the Dragons.

Bennett's signature caps a big fortnight for the Tinkler Sports Group which secured ownership of the Knights with 97 per cent members' support.

"We are building something really special for the entire community and are thrilled to know that Wayne Bennett will be part of it," said Tinkler Sports Group chairman Ken Edwards.

"Wayne's appointment confirms exactly what Nathan has been saying, that the Hunter region has developed dramatically and now the best do not have to go to Sydney, Melbourne or Brisbane to prosper, they can now stay or join us in the Hunter.

"This is a major step for the region as we continue to build community pride and above all, further expand the club's existing policy to provide a pathway for all juniors to have the opportunity to play for the Knights.

"What excites everyone at the club is Wayne's commitment to work closely with the Newcastle Rugby League, to ensure that a professional structure is in place for young player development and a full program for local coaches.

"This is a genuine revolution for everyone involved in rugby league from Newcastle up to the Queensland border."

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