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Wayne Bennett linked to NRL club switch as New Zealand rejection comes to light

The Dolphins coach has missed out on the vacant Kiwis job, but could still have a new role in 2025.

Pictured Wayne Bennett left and right Brad Arthur and Mitchell Moses
Wayne Bennett is reportedly the target of the Parramatta Eels after he comes off contract at the end of the 2024 season. Image: Getty

The Parramatta Eels are reportedly considering making a move for Wayne Bennett as they search for their first premiership in almost three decades. The NRL super coach comes off contract at the Dolphins at the end of the 2024 NRL season, with current assistant coach Kristian Woolf named as his successor.

A report from Wide World of Sports suggests Bennett is being targeted by the Eels for next year as a potential coaching director, in a similar role to that of Phil Gould at the Bulldogs. If the move was to happen it would not jeopardise Brad Arthur's job as head coach.

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It is understood that the Eels believe Bennett's experience can help lead them to their first title since 1986. The 74-year-old coach has made it clear that although he is stepping away from the Dolphins he is open to offers for next year as he searches for his next challenge.

BRISBANE, AUSTRALIA - MARCH 23: Coach Wayne Bennett is seen chatting with Assistant Coaches Kristian Woolf (R) and Nathan Fien during a Dolphins NRL training session at Suncorp Stadium on March 23, 2023 in Brisbane, Australia. (Photo by Bradley Kanaris/Getty Images)

Wayne Bennett set to miss out on New Zealand job

Bennett also put his hand up for the vacant New Zealand coaching job but on Wednesday it was announced that he had been pipped by Stacey Jones. The 47-year-old former Kiwis captain signed a three-year deal that will see him lead the national team until the end of the 2026 World Cup.

Jones was an assistant coach for the Kiwis last year and is the assistant coach under Andrew Webster at the Warriors. He said it was an honour to be given the chance to lead the national side. "It was a special privilege to play for my country and to now have the chance to coach the Kiwis is both exciting and humbling," Jones said.

AUCKLAND, NEW ZEALAND - JUNE 28: New Zealand Warriors interim head coach Stacey Jones at training as the New Zealand Warriors return home to Mt Smart Stadium to play the remaining home matches of the NRL 2022 season in front of their fans on June 28, 2022 in Auckland, New Zealand. (Photo by Fiona Goodall/Getty Images)
Stacey Jones has signed a three-year deal that will see him lead the Kiwis until the end of the 2026 World Cup. Image: Getty (Fiona Goodall via Getty Images)

"I've enjoyed working with the Kiwis over the last few years and seeing the team develop under Madge (Maguire). I've learnt so much being involved with such a special group of players. I'm hugely grateful to the Warriors for the coaching opportunities they've given me to put me in this position, and for the way they supported me in my bid for this role with the Kiwis while continuing to work at the club."

Sam Burgess credits Wayne Bennett's guidance for new coaching role

Sam Burgess revealed that Bennett convinced him to take up a head coaching job in England after leaving his role as an assistant coach at the Rabbitohs last year after it was claimed that he was undermining coach Jason Demetriou. The Rabbitohs endured a tumultuous end to their 2023 season in which they made unwanted history by missing out on finals footy, despite leading the competition after round 11.

Burgess fell out with the Souths hierarchy after he questioned the club's training standards. He claimed stars such as Latrell Mitchell and Cody Walker were given preferential treatment by the club's coaches.

Since then Burgess has signed a deal to coach Warrington in the English Super League. But he said it wouldn't have been the case if not for Bennett, telling the UK Telegraph that the Dolphins coach convinced him to take the job, despite him leaning towards taking some time away from the sport.

"I was finishing up at Souths and this just came up. A lot of people advised me to take a bit more time but Wayne Bennett told me, 'Go do it. It's the only way you're going to learn'," Burgess said ahead of his Super League coaching debut. "It was a sliding doors moment. It wasn't a plan but it was a great opportunity outside my comfort zone. I wanted to be a head coach in the long run and I thought this was just a great fit. It is such a great club to be part of."

with AAP

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