Why Wayne Bennett must be stopped amid NRL expansion bid

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Wayne Bennett, pictured here during a South Sydney Rabbitohs training session.
Wayne Bennett looks on during a South Sydney Rabbitohs training session. (Photo by Matt King/Getty Images)

OPINION

Have those pushing for NRL expansion not watched Canterbury play this season?

Or tuned in while the St George Illawarra Dragons commit every known rugby league atrocity, torturing their fans en-route to losing another game that would be easier to win than lose.

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Perhaps you prefer your death by a thousand cuts? Then the finals-immune Wests Tigers are for you.

Head north to Queensland and there is a strong possibility all three clubs could again finish outside the top eight despite having home ground/state advantage, while the rest of the competition camps out 1000 kilometres from their normal postcodes.

Still, those who want the NRL to grant a licence to a 17th team insist there is enough playing talent to go around.

According to Wayne Bennett, you’ve just to look in the right places. And, again on Wayne’s word, it’s the lack of quality coaching holding back this untapped brilliance.

Coincidentally, Bennett will be out of a job in October and has made no secret of his desire to keep coaching.

Conveniently, the master coach is heading back to Brisbane and, wouldn’t you know it, that’s where the 17th team will be located if a new licence is granted.

It’s a shootout between Brisbane Jets, Brisbane Firehawks and Redcliffe Dolphins and, surprise, surprise, Bennett is the first-choice coach for all three.

After two Covid-stricken years, NRL clubs are urging caution and a pause on expansion. The game can’t afford it, they say, even if a new team might sweeten the broadcast deal.

The business needs time to take stock and begin to recover from the damage.

The most sensible move would be to revisit expansion and wait until the world is back on kilter a few years from now.

Again, according to Wayne, we shouldn’t listen or be swayed by the dissenting voices because they all have vested interests.

He should know. No-one in the game does vested interests and lobbying as well as Wayne Bennett.

Titans players, pictured here during their loss to Melbourne Storm.
Titans players look on during their loss to Melbourne Storm. (Photo by Chris Hyde/Getty Images)

Titans to coast into the eight

If this all works out, you read it here first. If not, this piece never existed.

We're going to take a stab at predicting who will grab the eighth and final finals spot two weeks from now.

Can we all agree on one thing from the get-go? That the Dragons, Warriors and Wests Tigers are all gone despite remaining a mathematical chance and Newcastle will secure seventh spot?

Ok, good.

That leaves the Raiders, Titans and Sharks - all locked on 20 points and separated by points differential - fighting it out for the last spot.

Cronulla sit eighth (-32 differential) but our crystal ball has them losing to Brisbane and Melbourne and missing the finals for the first time since 2014.

Gold Coast (-46) will lose to Newcastle and beat the Warriors to finish on 22 points, while Canberra (-85) will beat the Warriors but go down to the Roosters in the final round to also sit on 22.

So there you have it, folks. Gold Coast will finish eighth on for and against…we think.

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