Wayne Bennett was not at ANZ Stadium for yesterday’s launch of the Charity Shield, but he might as well have been. Even in his absence, the master coach’s name was on the tip of most tongues courtesy of an inescapable thought: Will he be sitting on the other end of the panel of players and coaches in a South Sydney Rabbitohs polo this time next year?
The Bennett-to-Souths speculation continues to potter along, still falling a little way short of genuine legitimacy but managing nonetheless to brighten the mood of a new Rabbitohs star when he glances beyond 2011.
”It is the talk. It is a big possibility,” said Greg Inglis, the Test centre who joined Souths in the off-season. ”But there’s talk about Craig Bellamy coming up, too. There’s a lot of rumours going around. You just can’t believe what the so-called talk is about.”
Inglis, 24, has never played under Bennett, although he was tutored by the seven-time premiership-winning mentor as a teenager when involved in the Queensland State of Origin emerging players’ camp.
Whether he is coached by him again remains to be seen, but until the prospect of Souths acquiring Bennett from next year is quashed by either party the murmuring is here to stay. Lang has already conceded he will not coach the Rabbitohs beyond this year, leaving the post vacant.
Bennett, in the meantime, will decide his future. He is off contract at the Dragons at the end of this season and is due to discuss a potential extension with chief executive Peter Doust during the off-season.