Broncos coach Bennett relishes NZ role - Sports News - Fanatics - the world's biggest events

Broncos coach Bennett relishes NZ role

11/02/2008 03:46:03 PM Comments (0)

Broncos coach Wayne Bennett said Monday it was "vital" a New Zealander had been named as the new Kiwi rugby league mentor.

Bennett had initially been tipped to take over from Gary Kemble, who resigned as Kiwi coach following a horror introduction which included a record 58-0 loss to Australia and 3-0 series loss to Great Britain.

However, the New Zealand Rugby League (NZRL) announced on Monday ex-Kiwis skipper Stephen Kearney as the new coach with Bennett taking an advisory role.

Kearney, who is assistant coach with NRL premiers the Melbourne Storm, has signed a two-year contract with the Kiwis.

Bennett's role is initially for the centenary Test against Australia in Sydney on May 9.

NZRL chairman Ray Haffenden said Bennett's further involvement would be assessed after that, with a view to continuing it through to the World Cup campaign at the end of the year.

Bennett - who will walk away from Brisbane at the end of 2008 after 21 seasons at the helm - said he would relish the new role.

"I'm a great believer that we need to do all we can to build up the international game," the six-time premiership winning coach said in a statement.

"I'm keen to help New Zealand rugby league but I believe it's vital that the coach is a New Zealander.

"I couldn't think of a finer man for the job than Stephen and I'm really looking forward to helping him in any way I can.

"It's important that he's in the job long-term because you need that continuity when you're rebuilding a side."

The seed was planted for Bennett to be involved with the Kiwis last year.

The Broncos mentor accepted an invitation to hold the national reins for the historic New Zealand All Golds clash against the Northern Union in England late last year.

Bennett got on so well with the players that skipper Roy Asotasi threatened a player revolt if Kemble was not sacked.

Kemble eventually fell on his sword.

"New Zealand rugby league has a wonderful pool of playing talent," Bennett said.

"I've always said the Kiwis could be anything and I saw that first-hand working with the All Golds last year.

"That was a terrific experience for me personally and a tremendous honour to be asked to be involved.

"I have a very special appreciation now of what it is that makes New Zealand players so special and that's what makes this opportunity so exciting.

"It's going to be a privilege to be a part of it and that's just what I want to be - to be a part of it, working with the coaching staff, management and players."

Bennett has been the Broncos' coach since the club's 1988 inception.

He has also won five Origin series as Queensland mentor and coached Australia 16 times between 1998 and 2005.

Haffenden said the rest of the Kiwi coaching and management staff would be confirmed as soon as possible.

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