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Tinkler, Bennett with plenty to do

Steve Jancetic 12/04/2011 07:11:14 PM Comments (0)

His capture of Wayne Bennett proved money is no object to billionaire Newcastle owner Nathan Tinkler, but even the deepest pockets in the world are no guarantee of NRL glory.

While Bennett will arrive in Newcastle in 2012 with a resume the envy of every coach in the NRL, the seven-time premiership winner has plenty of work to do to garner himself another with the Knights.

In his 21 seasons in Brisbane, Bennett had a roster full of representative stars, the likes of Allan Langer, Darren Lockyer, Gorden Tallis, Kevin Walters, Shane Webcke, Glenn Lazarus, Petero Civoniceva, Steve Renouf, Justin Hodges and Brent Tate.

Still it wasn't a case of overnight success, with the Broncos missing the finals in three of their first four campaigns before breaking through for their maiden premiership win in 1992.

Five more premierships followed over the next 16 years before he took over a St George Illawarra club high on talent but short on results.

While he worked his magic to convert the likes of fringe first graders Michael Weyman and Beau Scott into Origin players, Bennett did have representative talent such as Matt Cooper, Ben Hornby, Ben Creagh, Jeremy Smith, Neville Costigan and Darius Boyd - who had followed him to Wollongong from the Broncos - to work with and he finally broke the club's premiership drought last year.

Midway through his final season with the Dragons, 11 of his first-choice starting 13 are representative players.

While much will depend on what the master coach and Tinkler's wealth can secure ahead of 2012, there are still plenty of holes in the Knights squad.

Boyd is almost certain to again follow Bennett to shore up the Knights' No.1 jumper, which would allow skipper Kurt Gidley to move fulltime into the five-eighth role.

Along with halfback Jarrod Mullen, Bennett would have a playmaking trio arguably better than the one he has at the Dragons, but from there the talent thins out quickly.

Speedy winger Akuila Uate is a player on the rise and may even be a NSW representative by the time Bennett gets there next season, but Adam MacDougall is set to retire and his centre partner Junior Sau is struggling to earn himself a new contract.

Aside from Costigan - currently nursing a broken arm - and workaholic backrower Chris Houston, the forward pack lacks star power and it remains to be seen if Bennett will support Tinkler's $1.6 million bid to bring Cronulla prop Kade Snowden back to his former club.

With Jamal Idris having rejected Newcastle's advances, there appears little in the way of quick-fix solutions in the free agent market.

Bennett has given himself four years to turn the Knights around and he might need all of it to make it happen.

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