Wayne Bennett has finally ended the speculation about his coaching career and will sign a four year contract with the Newcastle Knights starting in 2012.

Bennett said his decision was based around the vision and passion of new Knights owner Nathan Tinkler combined with the lifestyle offered by Newcastle and the Hunter.

“I sat down with Nathan (Tinkler) and was struck by his passion and knowledge of rugby league,” said the seven-time premiership-winning coach who is believed to have signed for approximately $5 million over four seasons.

“Private ownership appeals to me. I like it. This guy wants to take Newcastle to another level. He wants our game to capture the imagination of the Hunter like never before … for the Knights to be the benchmark of Rugby League in this country. That is the type of challenge that appeals to me”.

Bennett said the country NSW lifestyle appealed to him after living happily in Wollongong while coaching the Dragons and previously in Queanbeyan with the Raiders in 1987.

The South Sydney Rabbitohs will have to look for another coach now that they’ve missed out on snaring super coach Bennett. The front runner for the position seems to be English Super League coach Michael Maguire.

It remains to be seen what will become of current Knights coach, Rick Stone. Reports have suggested that he’ll stay with the Knights in a assistant coach position. Bennett said he hoped Stone would remain at the club “and work there with me”.