Wayne Bennett has his first meeting with St George/Illawarra officials today in what is effectively his first day on the job as the clubs new coach.
Bennett has spent over 20 years coaching the Broncos. During that time he coaches a club with amazing resources, in a city that had no other Rugby League team.
For the most part, he has his pick of the very best players Queensland produced and had the complete backing of the entire state.
As Dragons coach, those advantages are now long gone, and while he has got access to a good junior base, most other areas of the Dragons are a complete basket case.
Bennett will be forced to eradicate a “close enough is good enough” attitude at the club. He will have a board over him that is one of the worst in the NRL and who will make decisions that will directly effect the teams ability to win.
Being in Sydney, Bennett will now find out what its like to not be the top dog in a one city, one team environment. He will find that fans in Sydney are far more fickle and have so many options for their weekend entertainment that if the Dragons go off the boil crowds can halve in a matter of a couple of weeks.
The biggest thing Bennett will have to face however is the media.
In Brisbane, if you are a Rugby League journalist and you pissed off the Broncos by writing something they didn’t like,that was that. This means that the Brisbane media have always been very nice to the Broncos, going as far as to protect the club on many occasions.
The Sydney media meanwhile will tear a club to shreds without a second thought, no remorse and no concerns that they will be cut out of the loop.
Because there are so many journos in Sydney from so many media outlets writing so many stories that if you started banning people you’d find yourself with a list of names ten miles long!
On top of that, Sydney clubs can’t afford to get the media offside because its such an ultra competitive market. Just look at the Canterbury Bulldogs, they upset a few people at News Ltd and some radio hacks a few years ago and they STILL get thrashed at every opportunity by these organizations because of it.
Bennett will find the Sydney media will turn up his first day of coaching, and it will never leave. He will find himself in the social pages, in the gossip sections….it will all be so foriegn to him compared to how the Brisbane media treated him.
On top of all this, he’ll have a football team to coach who is soft, stupid and has a terrible culture.
The next three years will be a massive test for Wayne Bennett. While he will not get any pressure on his job from the clubs board (After all, they kept a loser like Nathan Brown in the job for 6 whole years!) he will find other pressures that will make the job very hard.
He knew that when he took the Dragons job that he would be putting a mark on his legacy. He will either enhance his reputation, or hurt it by having the stigma of not being able to get the job done in Sydney.
If he can turn it all around, he’s nothing short of genius.
A well known Rugby League writer, League Freak has established a reputation among supporters of the game for his fearless commentary and unmatched insight. With a reach that spans both sides of the globe, League Freak has produced an independent network that allows him to distribute content to his many thousands of followers. He is the owner and main author of LeagueFreak.com
Oct 20, 2019 0