Wayne Bennett under fire over 'pathetic' press conference act after Dolphins loss

The master coach has been branded "pathetic" after his latest post-match press conference.

Pictured here, Dolphins coach Wayne Bennett.
Dolphins coach Wayne Bennett has faced a wave of criticism after his frosty press conference exchange with an NRL reporter in Perth. Pic: Getty

Master coach Wayne Bennett has been labelled "pathetic" after his brutal NRL post-match press conference described by veteran league reporter Phil Rothfield as a “bad advertisement” for the game. Bennett has long enjoyed a frosty relationship with the media and is renowned for his short and sometimes completely evasive answers to questions from reporters.

Following the Dolphins' loss to the Newcastle Knights in Perth on Saturday, the 73-year-old coach flat-out refused to give his thoughts on the match after being continually questioned by one persistent journalist. Bennett had given a number of vague, one-line answers to questions about the game, before questioning whether the reporter watched the match after being asked to expand on what went wrong.

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When pressed further to give his opinion on the 30-28 loss, Bennett refused after declaring: "I’m not really interested in sharing it". It was about as awkward a press conference as you could get, with Rothfield suggesting Bennett had missed a glorious chance to promote the game in AFL-dominated Western Australia.

The Dolphins and Knights were part of a Saturday NRL double-header in Perth that saw the Rabbitohs and Sharks lock horns in the later game. Rothfield said while he appreciates all Bennett has done for the game, he argued the veteran coach had an obligation to fans, the media and the NRL to help promote the game - something he failed to do in the tetchy post-match press conference.

"The NRL spends a lot of money, puts a double header on in Perth and takes four sides over there," Rothfield said on the Big Sports Breakfast. “The local fans, and for us here it is like us watching an AFL game. We enjoy it, but the intricacies of it, people like me, we don’t understand it.

“You like now and again to get explanations from the coach at the media conference, Wayne goes over there in front of a new audience and he just carried on like a nark. One or two word answers to the one journalist that was there, an AAP journalist, Justin Chadwick in Perth.

“Wayne, as much as he has done so much for rugby league, was entitled to behave a little bit better and help spread the word in Perth.” Bennett is of course no stranger to awkward press conference moments but Rothfield said he picked the wrong time to deliver his most brutal in recent memory, when the NRL is trying to expand its fanbase around the country.

“I don’t know why Wayne chose that stage to do it, I don’t think anyone would have cared if he had done it in Redcliffe,” Rothfield said. “We are not half used to it, but once or twice a year he will get all narky. I just think it was a bad advertisement for the game.”

Seen here, Wayne Bennett in an NRL press conference.
Wayne Bennett's latest press conference after the Dolphins' loss to Newcastle turned heads across the NRL world. Pic: NRL

NRL world reacts to Wayne Bennett press conference

Rugby league great Laurie Daley was also unimpressed with Bennett's actions, along with Big Sports Breakfast host, Gerard Middleton. “It’s rubbish, he’s got to be better than that,” Middleton said. “It was a completely legitimate question, not being a smart Alec or anything. It was open ended, and to put it back on the journo like that is just petty.”

Daley added: “I think he didn’t handle himself well at all... he needed to be better than that Wayne". The incident has divided the rugby league world though, with many agreeing that Bennett's actions were "pathetic", while others argued he was just being himself and bringing entertainment to the sport in his own unique way.

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