Back to the future for Bennett - Sports News - Fanatics - the world's biggest events

Back to the future for Bennett

By Wayne Heming 12/04/2011 06:57:00 PM Comments (0)

The fondness he had for larger-than-life character Paul "Porky" Morgan was one of the reasons Wayne Bennett agreed to coach the Brisbane Broncos in 1988.

In the short time Bennett has known mining magnate Nathan Tinkler, he could not have helped but notice the same sort of passion which convinced him Morgan's heart was in the right place 23 years ago.

Luckily Tinkler didn't have to go to the same lengths Morgan did to convince Bennett to coach his newly-acquired Knights.

A successful Brisbane-based stockbroker, Morgan landed on Bennett's doorstep when he was co-coach of Canberra in 1987.

He told a young Bennett: "Wayne... I'm not leaving until I get your signature".

Morgan - who played alongside Bennett in the Toowoomba side which won the 1970 Bulimba Cup - got his man for a lot less than Tinkler shelled out two decades and seven NRL premierships later.

A co-founder of the Broncos, Morgan died of a heart attack in January 2001.

Bennett loved a lot of things about Morgan, especially his drive and passion, even though at times he tried to coach the team.

An electrician by trade, Tinkler made his millions after borrowing $500,000 to purchase a small unmined property.

He sold it to Japanese interests for $250 million in 2006 - the same year Bennett won his sixth premiership with the Broncos.

Tinkler has invested some of his wealth in Newcastle sport.

Last year he purchased 50 per cent ownership in Dick Johnson's Racing team in the Ford V8s and secured ownership of the A-League club Newcastle Jets, guaranteeing their future until 2020.

That kind of commitment and local support impressed Bennett, who would appreciate the benefits it brings to the community and the opportunities it provides for young people to become involved or follow sport.

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

"This guy wants to take Newcastle to another level ... that is the type of challenge that appeals to me."

Bennett was also seriously tempted by the other challenge of coaching South Sydney, a foundation club steeped in history crying out for its first premiership since 1971.

It's understood Bennett made up his mind on Sunday, only notifying South Sydney boss Shane Richardson on Tuesday morning of his final decision.

While the dollars were huge from both NRL clubs fighting for his signature, Tinkler's private ownership and his passion for sport won out in the end.

Like Morgan, Bennett would know Tinkler wants to be a winner.

Unlike his daring mining gamble several years ago, his investment in Bennett appears a safer bet.

After all, Bennett's record as a winner is unrivalled in rugby league.

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