Bennett admits using wrong halftime speech

Matt Encarnacion
Wayne Bennett had to change his halftime pep talk mid-speech after learning the Rabbitohs were ahead

Supercoach Wayne Bennett has admitted to giving South Sydney the wrong halftime speech in their wild NRL semi-final triumph over Manly.

Bennett was so filthy with his team's first-half effort on Friday that he left the coach's box and headed to the sheds with 10 minutes to go before the break.

Unaware that Cameron Murray had scored in the final minute to give his team a two-point halftime lead, Bennett tried to rally his troops for a comeback victory.

"I'm talking like we're losing because I think we were four points behind. Honestly that's what I believed," Bennett said post-game.

"And anyway, (assistant coach Jason Demetriou) said a couple of things and he kept talking about the three tries we scored.

"And I'm thinking 'we've only scored two. But just shut your mouth, Wayne. We've scored two, he's miscalculated.'

"So I've given my halftime-we're-behind speech: 'Let's make sure we're in front at the end of the game'."

It's at that point Bennett said captain Sam Burgess pulled his coach aside and informed him that they were in fact in front.

"I said 'piss off Sam, what are you talking about? He said 'coach, we're leading 18-16'. I had no idea we'd scored. I had no idea at all.

"So I changed the speech again very quickly. I started clapping and cheering and said, 'we're in front boys. Let's stay in front'."

But even that rev-up failed to work, with the Rabbitohs twice forced to come from behind in the second half before finally reclaiming the lead in the 71st minute.

Bennett conceded that, at one point, his thoughts turned to the summer.

"With 20 minutes to go, I'm in pre-season next year, what I gotta do with these guys. My season's over," he said.

"I'm feeling like we're not going to be at training on Monday.

"Twenty minutes later, we're sitting here going to Canberra."

It's there, in front of an expected full house at GIO Stadium, where the Rabbitohs will face the Raiders next Friday night for a spot in the grand final.

The contest will also include up to seven Englishmen, led by rival club captains Burgess and Josh Hodgson, as well as breakout star John Bateman.

"All the English boys playing each other, that'll be pretty special. There's seven of them, and I've all coached them in the Test team," Bennett said.

"Some of them I haven't coached, the other three, and I respect them enormously, as much as I do the Burgess brothers.

"There'll be a fair bit of on the line with those guys. I know their competitiveness, I know what they all bring.

"It'll be a great occasion. I'm just pleased to be there."