South Sydney coach Wayne Bennett has reportedly held talks with NRL expansion hopefuls the Brisbane Jets, who plan to lure the supercoach back to Queensland.
Should the Jets edge out the Redcliffe Dolphins and Brisbane Firehawks for the league's 17th license, they would join the NRL for the 2023 season, and are already looking to sign their first major coup.
Jets shareholder Steve Johnson told The Courier Mail that the club had contacted Bennett in hopes of landing the mastermind mentor should they be the NRL newest side.
“I have reached out to Wayne … we’ve had talks,” Jets consortium figurehead Steve Johnson said.
“Wayne is still keen to coach on so, yes, we would look at him as our head coach for 2023.
“People wanted to see icons play week in, week out and we want to do the same.” #NRLhttps://t.co/MBSxZS4Tyx
— ZeroTackle.com (@zerotackle) February 24, 2021
“He has to talk to South Sydney about his future plans. They are keen for him to stay on in another role (after this season), but we’re hoping Wayne has a desire in coming back to Queensland.”
The NRL is set to make a call on expansion in the coming months, with the Jets' bid given a major boost since the merger of the Brisbane Bombers and Ipswich (Western Corridor).
Shareholder Nic Livermore said there was no candidate that could match the bid of the Jets following the merger.
“The Bombers and Ipswich are moving together as one and this is the perfect model for the NRL’s 17th team,” he told The Courier Mail earlier this month.
“There’s been a lot to work through but we’ve found common ground and if the ARL Commission makes a call in June or July, we’re ready to go as Brisbane’s second team.
“If the ARL Commission looks at all the metrics around growth, participation, sustainability, financial security and creating a genuine derby with the Broncos without cannibalising the current NRL market, it will take a special bid to overtake this.
“There is no other bid that will compete with the Brisbane Jets.”
NRL expansion: Battle set to begin for new licence to become Brisbane’s second team https://t.co/iOTkbK50vn via @dailytelegraph
— oethesaint (@oethesaint) February 25, 2021
The Jets remain hopeful that their Ipswich link will be key to satisfying Bennett's interest.
“We believe we have great synergies with Wayne,” Johnson added.
“A lot of people may not know this but Wayne started his coaching career in Ipswich.
“Aside from his connection to Queensland, Wayne is one of our own with the Ipswich community.
“He was born and raised in the western corridor, so if Wayne does become available to coach and we are lucky enough to win an NRL licence, we can’t think of a better person than Wayne Bennett to coach the Jets.
“Hopefully, if we can clinch a licence, we can have some more meaningful dialogue.”
Bennett is set to step aside from his position as head coach of the Rabbitohs at the end of this season, with assistant Jason Demetriou named as his successor.