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Wayne Bennett left furious at Cameron Munster after NRL snub

Wayne Bennett and Cameron Munster are pictured side by side.
Dolphins coach Wayne Bennett was unimpressed after the news of Cameron Munster re-signing with Melbourne was delivered to him by the five-eighth's manager, instead of by the man himself. Pictures: Getty Images

Wayne Bennett has accused Cameron Munster of 'dodging' his calls after the star five-eighth opted to re-sign with the Melbourne Storm over the Dolphins.

Munster turned down a four-year deal worth $5.5 million to join the Dolphins in favour of staying in Melbourne for the same length of contract, for $4 million overall.

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Missing out in signing Munster has come as a major blow for the NRL's newest team, with their 'second option', South Sydney's Latrell Mitchell, not interested in being a consolation prize.

Bennett was left unhappy with Munster after revealing on Triple M Brisbane that the Storm star had 'gone missing' during the negotiations, and that his manager Braith Anasta had been the one to break the news to the veteran coach about his decision.

The Dolphins still need to sign seven more players to fill out their roster, and a cornerstone NRL star had been a high priority - and Munster the coach's first choice.

Instead, Munster elected to remain with the Storm, where he won premierships in 2017 and 2020.

"It's pretty ordinary stuff," Bennett said.

"I understand about managers and all that and there is a need for him.

"But what I struggle with is the fact that the players, all the tough conversations that you have to have are missing.

"They don't ring you up and tell you they are not coming.

"That's a tough phone call none of us want to make.

"If you want to be a man then you've got to behave like one and (not) have your manager ring up and tell (us) you're not coming."

Though the Dolphins were able to lure North Queensland speedster Hamiso Tabuai-Fidow to the club earlier this week, they've had a string of misses as far as chasing higher profile recruits.

In addition to missing out on Munster and Mitchell declaring he had no interest, the Dolphins were also looked over by Newcastle Knights star Kalyn Ponga, who signed an extension with the club earlier this year.

Wayne Bennett urges NRL to do more for expansion teams

Bennett said the club had been up against it trying to build a competitive roster for their NRL debut next season.

The 72-year-old coach urged the league to take a leaf out of the AFL's book and have other clubs give up certain players to help new clubs establish a footing in the league.

When the Gold Coast Suns and GWS Giants joined the AFL, both teams had access to an exclusive pre-season draft focused on junior stars.

"The 17th team is an inconvenience because they're going to lose a few more players," Bennett said.

"What the game has never done is support a new team coming in, in terms of recruitment.

"The game should, as the AFL did with GWS and the Gold Coast, each club had to give up one or two players from their roster to make it more viable."

Wayne Bennett is pictured during a press conference.
Wayne Bennett has urged the NRL to get the competition's other teams to give up players to help establish new expansion sides. (Photo by Bradley Kanaris/Getty Images) (Getty Images)

Fox Sports commentator Andrew Voss told SEN missing out on Munster could be a telling sign of Bennett's fading allure in the NRL.

“What does this say for the Dolphins and the aura of Wayne Bennett? Do you think Wayne Bennett has got anyone across the line where there was some kind of bidding war? My quick answer is no, he hasn’t," Voss said.

“The fact is, the aura of Wayne Bennett, it can’t be there because they haven’t won a bidding war… where Wayne Bennett was the deciding factor.”

The Daily Telegraph's Riccio described the failed signing as a 'monumental blow' for the Dolphins, while Greg Alexander concurred that Bennett had 'lost his aura'.

With AAP

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