NRL clubs can't afford Bennett: Fittler - Sports News - Fanatics - the world's biggest events

NRL clubs can't afford Bennett: Fittler

By Laine Clark and Wayne Heming 06/02/2008 07:34:13 PM Comments (0)

In music to the ears of cashed-up English Super League clubs, Sydney Roosters mentor Brad Fittler on Wednesday claimed no NRL club would be able to afford departing Broncos coach Wayne Bennett.

Bennett said on Tuesday he would continue to coach "either in the northern hemisphere or the southern hemisphere" after he ends his record breaking 21-season tenure in Brisbane at the end of 2008.

The spotlight immediately turned to St George Illawarra, the Bulldogs, North Queensland and Manly, who have not re-signed their coaches beyond this season.

Bennett reportedly already had a few irons in the fire in Sydney.

But Fittler wondered aloud whether any NRL club would be able to meet Bennett's price tag.

"Every club cries poor too and I don't think he is going to come for nothing," he told Channel Ten.

"There's not many clubs out there spruiking that they are making a stack of money."

It won't be the first time Bennett will be in the sights of English Super League clubs.

Former Wigan chairman Maurice Lindsay courted Bennett for years but the Broncos coach had not budged because of the disruption it would have caused to his two disabled children.

With Brian Noble in the final year of his Wigan contract, a move to the JJB Stadium cannot be ruled out for Bennett.

St Helens loomed as a leading contender for Bennett in 2009 considering former New Zealand national coach Daniel Anderson confirmed he would return to Sydney at the end of the year.

However, Saints chief executive Tony Colquitt all but ruled out hiring the Broncos legend.

"As for Wayne Bennett, we haven't had any discussions with him and we have no plans to contact him," he told reporters.

Saints chairman Eamonn McManus has already confirmed that "three or four candidates" had already been identified.

Australian Mick Potter - who currently holds the Catalans Dragons reins - is believed to be on the Saints shortlist.

Potter's departure to St Helens could start the Super League coaching merry go around, creating a vacancy in France for Bennett.

English reports claimed the French post would appeal to Bennett considering his "long-standing commitment to the game's international development".

Back at Brisbane, Broncos boss Bruno Cullen on Wednesday said he expected applications for Bennett's vacancy to come pouring in ranging from "the high profile to the very ambitious".

Melbourne's Craig Bellamy is expected to head Brisbane's coaching hit list but current assistant Ivan Henjak could be the man to fill Bennett's job next year.

As the big names emerged as Bennett's likely successor and speculation raged as to who would get the job, Henjak was a surprise $2.50 favourite in betting markets released on Wednesday by one of the country's leading bookmakers.

Sportingbet Australia had Henjak top pick ahead of Anderson and Canberra coach Neil Henry.

Former Brisbane great Allan Langer was quoted as a $26 outsider.

The Darwin-based bookmakers had Canterbury as $3 favourites ahead of St George Illawarra at $3.25 to be Bennett's new home in 2009.

There were rumours circulating on Wednesday Storm assistant coaches Michael Maguire, a former Canberra player who has some representative coaching experience and ex-Kiwi international Stephen Kearney, could join the growing list of candidates lining up for the job.

Melbourne are keen for Bellamy, whose contract expires at the end of 2009, to re-sign and are hoping the opening of the new $250 million Stadium at Olympic Park will swing the deal.

"It's a bit sad for me personally I must say. I had five wonderful years up there and Wayne was obviously the leader," former Broncos assistant Bellamy told Channel Ten of Bennett's resignation.

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