Wayne Bennett spotted in surprise appearance alongside Sam Burgess

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Sam Burgess and Wayne Bennett, pictured here during Orara Valley's clash with Macksville in Coffs Harbour.
Sam Burgess and Wayne Bennett look on during Orara Valley's clash with Macksville in Coffs Harbour. (AAP Image/Supplied by David Wigley)

Wayne Bennett has made a surprise appearance alongside former South Sydney Rabbitohs player Sam Burgess in Coffs Harbour, sparking speculation that the pair could be teaming up at the Dolphins next year.

Bennett, who will coach the NRL's newest team the Dolphins in 2023, made the four-hour trip south from Brisbane to see Orara Valley Axemen play Macksville in a Group 2 match on Sunday.

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Burgess is currently coaching the Axemen after leaving an assistant role at the Rabbitohs in 2020 in the wake of explosive allegations made by his ex-wife.

Fellow Souths great Greg Inglis now plays for Macksville after retiring from NRL, however he was absent on Sunday due to Indigenous Round commitments in Melbourne.

Nevertheless, Bennett still attended the match and watching intently next to Burgess, who is continuing his transition to coaching at the Russell Crowe-backed club on the NSW mid north coast.

The Axemen are two from three after falling 26-10 to the unbeaten Macksville, where Inglis grew up playing as a junior.

Burgess has made no secret of his desire to one day coach in the NRL and Coramba Sports Ground was buzzing with talk the former England Test star could wind up at Redcliffe as one of Bennett's assistants for the Dolphins' 2023 debut.

"I'm really enjoying coaching, I feel like I'm making a difference," Burgess said last month.

"The guys here have been great as well so the end goal would be to get to the NRL but I understand that there's a bit of time between now and then and I'm just enjoying the process now here in the Valley."

Bennett wasn't shying away from the cameras on Sunday and happily posed for photos with Burgess after spending the entire game on the sidelines offering advice to his former Rabbitohs charge.

Wayne Bennett and Sam Burgess, pictured here in Coffs Harbour.
Wayne Bennett and Sam Burgess in Coffs Harbour. (AAP Image/Supplied by David Wigley)

Sam Burgess making transition to coaching

Burgess is hoping to help England coach Shaun Wane at this year's World Cup in the UK.

"I've got an interest to coach with England," he told AAP during the pre-season.

"I'm good friends with Shaun and he's interested in having me around for the end of the year to do some of the defence stuff.

"It would be a good start, being on the England staff would be interesting because it's not a year-long thing."

Bennett coached Burgess at South Sydney in 2019 before the England international was forced to retire due to a chronic shoulder injury.

Wayne Bennett and Sam Burgess, pictured here at a South Sydney training session in 2019.
Wayne Bennett and Sam Burgess at a South Sydney Rabbitohs training session in 2019. (Photo by Cameron Spencer/Getty Images)

Burgess then joined Bennett's coaching staff in 2020 before he stepped away from the role when explosive allegations were made regarding his personal life.

The 33-year-old Burgess played 182 games for the Rabbitohs, helping the club win the premiership in 2014 while playing with a broken cheekbone.

He also played 88 games for the Bradford Bulls in the UK Super League, as well as 24 Test matches for England.

In 2015 he made a short-lived switch to rugby union, playing for England at the Rugby World Cup before returning to the Rabbitohs the following year.

with AAP

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