'Absolute garbage': Wayne Bennett fumes over Phil Gould claim

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·Sports Reporter
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Wayne Bennett (pictured right) during Rabbitohs training and Gus Gould (pictured left) during commentary.
Wayne Bennett (pictured right) has denied a handshake deal with Phil Gould (pictured left) to join Penrith back in 2018. (Getty Images)

Rabbitohs coach Wayne Bennett has slammed reports there was a handshake deal for him to join the Panthers after his stint as coach of the Brisbane Broncos.

Penrith chairman Dave O’Neill has added fuel to the fire ahead of Penrith’s clash against the Rabbitohs in the NRL preliminary final after he claimed Gus Gould approached him and said there was an understanding Bennett would join the Panther’s after his departure from the Broncos.

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This is despite O’Neill claiming no board member wanted Bennett at the helm of the Panthers.

Ivan Clear signed for the club instead.

But ahead of their Saturday encounter, Bennett has blasted the claims as “absolute garbage”.

“That is absolute garbage,” Bennett told The Courier Mail.

“I have never looked at going to Penrith.

“There was a lot of talk around my future during that time at the Broncos when I was sacked (in December 2018). I have never met Dave O’Neill ... I wouldn’t know him if he walked past me tomorrow.”

Bennett denied he ever talked to Gould or anyone at Penrith over the role.

The South Sydney coach did reveal there was one team he was in discussions with following his departure from the Broncos.

Bennett claimed he was in talks for a three-year deal at the Wests Tigers, but knocked it back believing he would still be coaching the Broncos into 2019.

South Sydney prepare for clinical Penrith

South Sydney make the most errors of any team in the NRL preliminary finals but the mistakes come as a trade-off to their point-scoring prowess.

Their attack has ignited with 144 points over the past three weeks but that scoring surge has coincided with a whopping 39 errors, including a season-high 18 in last week's 38-24 win over Parramatta.

On average, the Rabbitohs are making two more errors per game than last year, but scoring at least six more points.

Damien Cook celebrates as he runs in to score a try during the NRL Semi Final match.
Damien Cook celebrates as he runs in to score a try during the NRL Semi Final match. (Photo by Mark Kolbe/Getty Images)

Across the last three weeks they have been down at various stages in every match but have fought back by throwing the ball around more - an option likely to prove risky against clinical Penrith.

"It's not ideal that we're making 18 errors but maybe through that part of the game (against the Eels) we were behind so we were chasing points," said star five-eighth Cody Walker ahead of Saturday's preliminary final.

"We understand that we can't be making that many errors against Penrith, they'll hurt us, they'll put us to the sword and they've got strike all over the park."

Walker's words are especially true considering the Panthers are at the other end of the spectrum, with the fewest errors-per-game in the competition and the highest completion rate.

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