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Newcastle's Stone keen to succeed Bennett

21/06/2011 06:44:03 PM Comments (0)

Newcastle coach Rick Stone is happy to work under Wayne Bennett next year but admits he's already eyeing the day when he regains top dog status at the NRL club.

Stone on Tuesday agreed to a four-year deal to be Bennett's assistant at the Knights from next season, a move which represents something of a back-to-the-future role for the 44-year-old.

Stone spent four years as an assistant under Michael Hagan and Brian Smith, before taking over the head coaching job when Smith was shown the door during the latter stages of the 2009 season.

As he prepares for a second tour of duty as an understudy, Stone says he is doing so in anticipation that he will one day succeed Bennett.

"I feel I've got the capacity to be a head coach," Stone said.

"Hopefully, whenever it's Wayne's turn to step aside and retire and move on - whether it be Newcastle or coaching - I'd like to think I'd get the opportunity to coach this proud club again."

Despite a playing roster lacking the star power of many of its NRL rivals, Stone has enjoyed a small measure of success during his tenure at Newcastle.

He won three of four games to get the Knights into the 2009 finals following Smith's sudden departure and, after a disappointing 2010 campaign, he again has the club in the NRL top eight.

He was mentioned as a possible contender for the vacant Penrith coaching role, but dismissed suggestions he was interested in any other jobs.

"It wasn't a tough decision for me really," Stone said.

"There's been a bit of speculation about other clubs but to be honest, this is the choice that I wanted to make."

While he maintains his focus is still on taking the Knights as far as he can in 2011, Stone said he is already looking forward to soaking up as much knowledge as possible from Bennett.

The master coach will head to the Knights, looking to become the first man to lead three different NRL clubs to a premiership title.

"I'll get an insight into how he operates and obviously how he motivates players, how he attacks each game," Stone said.

"I've had a good rapport with him since he decided to come to Newcastle.

"We're desperately trying to build something that's going to be the envy of rugby league worldwide, not just in our competition."

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