Wayne Bennett has effectively thrown his hat in the ring for the Queensland top job, should Kevin Walters pursue his dream of coaching an NRL club beyond this year’s series.
Bennett has enjoyed multiple tenures as Maroons coach between the 80’s and early 2000’s, coaching the Maroons to four series wins from 21 matches as coach.
With speculation mounting that Titans coach Garth Brennan may struggle to see out his contract amid an internal review of the club’s operations, Walters’ name has again been thrown in the ring.
The Queensland great has been outspoken with his desire to lead an NRL club one day, and should the Gold Coast job become vacant, Walter’s name is expected to be top of the Titans list.
That would open the door for Bennett, who would be interested in returning to the coach the Maroons for the first time since 2003.
“My commitment has been total to Queensland. That’s important to me.”, Bennett told Sydney Morning Herald.
“If they feel there is a part for me to play and I feel I can do that, I will do that. It’s as simple as that for me,”
“I coached first grade for eight years before the national competition came along. I gave up my job in Canberra to come home and coach the Broncos.
“I have always been committed to rugby league in Queensland since I got into coaching. Besides coaching Origin, I’ve done a lot of stuff in regards to Queensland Academy of Sport programs, a lot of stuff prior to that, I’ve coached Queensland under-18s.
“To cut a long story short, the bottom line is if they thought I was the best and Kevin moved on and wasn’t able to do it, I’d certainly look at it.”
Whilst Bennett has admired the work of Walters - who led the side to a series win in his first year - he’s aware of how quickly things move in the Rugby League world.
“I’m not in that place yet, so I don’t have to make that decision,” Bennett said.
“I’m a short succession plan, I can tell you that,” Bennett quipped. “I’m not at the beginning of my career.”
“I think the chairman was just expressing a point of view he had regarding the future. Kevin has got the job next year and I spoke to Kevin the other day about something unrelated, I asked him how it was all going, and he said he’d been reappointed for next year.
“You just assume that’s going to happen and if the other part comes up, I’ll be interested and see where it goes.”
Bennett’s admission comes just days before Kevin Walters goes into a heavyweight decider at ANZ Stadium where he will attempt to stop New South Wales claiming their first back-to-back series win in 14 years.