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Wayne Bennett says "he's not finished" and that a plan is formulating for his next gig in rugby league after Sunday night's NRL grand final loss marked the end of his three-year stint at South Sydney.
The 71-year-old mastercoach lurches into the unknown for the first time in his career in 2022 but said he's in no rush to finalise his future beyond Redfern.
For now, a 14-12 loss to Penrith in the decider needs to be processed.
"I wasn't looking for a fairytale ending, I'm not finished yet," he declared after Sunday's loss at Suncorp Stadium.
"I've told you a thousand times ... when I know what the plan is I will let you know.
"There is something formulating in my mind but I don't know what it is yet."
The seven-time premiership winner is tipped to coach the next NRL franchise in Brisbane in 2023 but also has an offer to remain involved with South Sydney.
When pushed to give an indication of what he might do, Bennett refused to give anything away.
"I have a number of options on the table, and I just don't know what I will do right now," he said.
"Today is not a good day and tomorrow will not be a good day for the state of mind I will be in to make a decision on my future.
"I'll settle in a couple of weeks.
"I respect Souths enormously and what they have done for me.
"If they think I have done something for them they have done a lot for me as well.
"I won't do anything without talking to Souths first and foremost."
A second-straight grand final loss for Bennett followed two preliminary finals exits since joining Souths after a messy exit from Red Hill.
He said the extra-time 2015 defeat would forever sting with the chase for an eighth title - and first since 2010 with St George Illawarra - still seemingly very much alive.
"It's not far behind it," he said of the pain of Sunday's defeat compared to 2015.
"But at no stage tonight did we have that game won. We were always in it but never out of it. But in 2015 we had that game won, it hurts more."