Stuart on right track: Bennett - Sports News - Fanatics - the world's biggest events

Stuart on right track: Bennett

David Beniuk 13/05/2011 11:01:03 PM Comments (0)

Master coach Wayne Bennett says NSW might still have the services of their retired State of Origin stars if they had treated them better.

St George Illawarra captain Ben Hornby and centre Matt Cooper are among the highest profile big names to have made themselves unavailable for Origin despite both being in superb form and playing for a club that has won eight straight games.

Manly co-captain Jamie Lyon is another reluctant to play representative football.

Dragons coach Bennett said the Blues needed to make players feel wanted, and he believes new full-time mentor Ricky Stuart is on the right track to doing so.

"I think there'll be less of that (representative retirement) now with Ricky there," Bennett said.

"The difference between the Queenslanders and the NSW guys in the last number of years is that the Queensland people involved with Origin give them a fair bit of interest and a bit of love and keep in contact with them and keep telling them where they're going and where they're heading.

"NSW has not done that.

"They've just taken it for granted they pick the team and they can beat us.

"Maybe Ben (Hornby) would be still playing Origin if someone had have been there strong enough to say, 'Listen Ben, don't give it up, you'll be the halfback next year'.

"Ricky's come out and made some of those statements and they need to be made.

"Guys just shouldn't have to be looking over their shoulder year in and year out."

Bennett, who coached the Maroons to five Origin series wins, said the chopping and changing of NSW sides had been a factor in their five-straight series losses.

"Regardless of whether they win the series or not, the point is they've got to stabilise now and get a group of men there that they can rely on each year to get the job done," he said.

"That doesn't mean 17 players but it certainly means a hard core, which Queensland have been renowned for the last 30 years, it's their great strength.

"There's a core of them that will always be picked in that team."

Bennett expects four or five Dragons to be in the Blues side and urged Stuart to go for established combinations.

"The combinations are really important, you put two or three guys together in places on the field that normally play together, it's one of Queensland's great advantages," he said.

"It helps (the coach) with limited preparation time."

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