Veteran coach’s 11-word mastery revealed
Rugby league reporter Paul Kent has revealed the simple, yet effective Wayne Bennett speech which captured precisely why the veteran coach is a Hall of Famer.
Bennett led the St. George Illawarra Dragons to a minor premiership during the 2010 season, and the powerhouse club came up against the Sydney Roosters - who were coached by Brian Smith - in the highly-anticipated Grand Final.
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At halftime, the Dragons were trailing 8-6, and Kent recalled the contrasting footage being shown from the change rooms during the break.
"There was some vision of the coaches from the cameras in the dressing sheds," Kent said on The Matty Johns Podcast.
"Wayne Bennett walks in and says something to St George, and I would only find out later what he said. But he just walked around arms folded talking.
"Then you see the Roosters dressing room with Brian Smith going berserk on the whiteboard.
"I thought, 'Mate, too much information'. So suddenly he is pointing and telling them to do this, do this, do this.
"The players were getting inundated with information while they were trying to cop a breather."
The Roosters were unable to register a point in the second half, and the Dragons went on to claim a stunning 32-8 victory and win their first premiership since 1979. Meanwhile, Bennett secured his seventh NRL premiership as coach.
"I said to Bennett after the game, 'What did you say to them at halftime?'" Kent said.
"He said, 'I'm not telling you', and I said, 'Why aren't you telling me?' He said, 'Because I don't want to give myself a wrap.'
"I thought, 'Well it won't be long before I get this out then.' But I found out what he said. He walked in and the Dragons, who had a great season and had been building to this for years. That was why Bennett was brought in.
"He walked in at halftime and he said, 'Guys, when are we going to start playing like St George?'
"And that was all he said. That was his message. Just go out and play your game and do what you do.
"Poor old Brian Smith with the whiteboard. I felt sorry for him because he got to the end of that game and he was gutted because you could see him thinking, 'I've done everything right this time, where have I gone wrong?'
"He had it right for everything but the last 40 minutes."
After breaching the NRL's coronavirus protocols earlier this month, Bennett has been forced into a 14-day quarantine, but the South Sydney Rabbitohs coach is expected to make his return for Saturday evening's match against the Manly Sea Eagles.
Originally published as Veteran coach's 11-word mastery revealed