Dolphins coach Wayne Bennett has confirmed he will not be moving back to Sydney at the end of his current stint with the club.
Bennett, who last coached in Sydney with the South Sydney Rabbitohs during the 2021 season before having 2022 away from head coaching duties to set up the Dolphins, has been linked with a surprise return to the club in recent times.
That noise comes with the Rabbitohs missing the finals this year and Jason Demetriou likely to enter 2024 as one of the game's most under pressure coaches.
Rumblings around issues at the Redfern-based club refuse to go away, and the on-field performances over the second half of the season were diabolical, with Demetriou also losing two staff members in Sam Burgess, who walked out immediately to join Warrington in England, and John Morris, who has signed with the Wests Tigers for 2024 and beyond.
It was also believed at one point that he could have been in the mix for a return to the St George Illawarra Dragons - a club he won a premiership at in 2010 - in the 2025 campaign, if not earlier with Kristian Woolf primed to take over at Redcliffe when Bennett exits.
As it stands, Bennett's contract expires at the end of the 2024 campaign, but the coach told News Corp he has no plans on moving back to Sydney.
“I came home to Queensland for a reason and that hasn't changed,” Bennett told the publication.
“I don't have any plans to go back to Sydney.
“I am contracted to the Dolphins for another 12 months and I haven't put all this hard work in setting the club up to walk away from it.”
The comments from Bennett comes with the Dolphins primed to improve next year.
Already outdoing expectations during the first half of the 2023 campaign, the Redcliffe-based outfit were ruined by injuries and a lack of depth over the second half of the season after looking like solid finals contenders at one point.
Bennett, who also set up the Brisbane Broncos when they first entered the competition, has previously not ruled out continuing in the coaching game after his time at the Dolphins ends, and it's a line the NRL's most experienced coach is maintaining.
“Who knows what I will do after that?” he said.
“I honestly don't know, I have no idea. I could keep coaching, but one thing is I'm set in concrete here for the Dolphins for next season and that's not changing.”
It's believed the Dolphins want Bennett to remain at the club in a non-coaching capacity following the end of his current stint, and with Bennett unlikely to want to move away from the Brisbane area, that may well be the task assigned.
The Broncos will not be looking to move Kevin Walters on given the season he has just had at Red Hill, with the Broncos finishing in second spot and due to host a qualifying final this weekend, while the Gold Coast Titans have only recently signed Des Hasler to replace Justin Holbrook, who was sacked in the middle of the 2023 campaign.