Do the Newcastle Knights look like a team coached by someone earning well over $1 million per year?
I look at the Newcastle Knights and I don’t see any value for money coming from Wayne Bennett and what he is doing at the club. I don’t see them doing anything special. I don’t see a team that looks like it has an edge over its rivals because they have a very expensive coach. I don’t see a team that looks like its going anywhere. Yes you can see the attitude Bennett brings to the side, but the execution isn’t there.
Wayne Bennett took over a Newcastle Knights team that had scrapped into the finals in 2011. It was a team going through a transitional phase. Wayne Bennett was brought in to speed up that transition and add his winning touch to them. Bennett brought in a number of players to the side including Danny Buderus, Timana Tahu, Kade Snowden and his shadow in Darius Boyd.
In Bennett’s first season at the Knights the team finished in 12th place on the NRL ladder. It was hardly the performance you would expect from a master coach but you had to give Bennett time, after all, the Knights were a team that was still rebuilding. Once again Bennett brought in more players from outside the club, Willie Mason, Dane Gagai, Beau Scott, Jeremy Smith….players that were decent signings, but far from super stars.
In 2013 you can see the the effect these players have had on the side. They are more consistent, but the Knights still don’t look anything like a team that is going to trouble the contenders for this years Premiership. They look more like a team that is build to do OK, to maybe sneak into the finals at best, but that’s about it.
There are already whispers that when Wayne Bennett’s contract is up at the end of the 2015 season he will take up a position at the Brisbane Broncos or retire from coaching all together. That is only two and a half seasons away from where the Knights stand right now. The way this Knights team has been put together, when Bennett’s contract is up, there isn’t going to be a great deal left for an incoming Knights coach to work with.
Danny Buderus (35), Jeremy Smith (33), Willie Mason (33), David Fa’alogo (32), Timana Tahu (32), Kurt Gidley (30) and Jarrod Mullen (26) and are all off contract over the next few seasons. All but Jarrod Mullen you would expect to retire when their contracts are up. That is the core of the current Knights lineup. On top of that, you can expect Darius Boyd to leave and follow Wayne Bennett where ever he decides to go.
No doubt there will be some Knights fans that are hoping that Bennett will stick around in Newcastle, but why would he? Why would he go through another rebuilding phase at the Knights?
I can’t help but wonder where this Knights team is headed. Where is Wayne Bennett taking them? This team needs to win now before the core of the team retires. The Knights window of opportunity to win a Premiership is closing fast and right now it looks like Wayne Bennett will be leaving behind the shell of a team that will require a massive rebuilding effort, one that is greater than the one he faced when he took over the club.
Considering the results so far, considering the players the Knights currently have, considering where the club looks to be headed over the next few years….would you say Wayne Bennett has been worth over $1 million per season to the Newcastle Knights?
So far I don’t think Bennett has been worth the money. I think the Knights are going to get to the end of his contract and realize they spend $4 million plus on a coach that didn’t win them a Premiership and left the clubs playing ranks in tatters. Because of that I would say that Wayne Bennett is currently the biggest waste of money in Rugby League.
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