Wayne Bennett gives telling response to Sam Burgess question amid Ben Hornby call

Bennett has heaped praise on Sam Burgess for his English Super League success.

Wayne Bennett has heaped praise on Sam Burgess and stated that he is open to being reunited with the former NRL star once he completes his Super League apprenticeship with Warrington. The veteran coach confirmed on Tuesday that he has signed a three-year deal to return to the Rabbitohs in 2025.

Bennett coached the Bunnies from 2019 to 2021 when the side made two preliminary finals and the 2021 grand final. And the 74-year-old coach said he will return to Redfern next season as he has unfinished business at the NRL's oldest club.

Pictured Wayne Bennett and right with Sam Burgess
Wayne Bennett has heaped praise on Sam Burgess and said he would welcome him back to the Bunnies if he wanted to come. Image: Getty

When fronting the media on Tuesday to address his move, Bennett was asked about Burgess. Bennett's favourite NRL son left his role as an assistant coach at the Rabbitohs last year after it was claimed that he was undermining then-coach Jason Demetriou.

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 coaching staff and walked away from his role. Since then he signed a deal to coach Warrington in the English Super League in what is his first job as a professional head coach.

In his maiden year as coach, Burgess has taken the Wolves to third in the Super League and could eye a return to the NRL in the near future. Burgess worked under Bennett during his first spell at Souths and the veteran coach said if he is ever willing to return to the Rabbitohs he will create space for him. However, he went on to say that he believes what is best for the former NRL star right now is space to develop as a coach.

"Sam is doing a great job at Warrington, and he needs that time and space over there to do that," Bennett said. "We'll see what the future holds. He's a damn good person."

The Englishman was signed by Warrington as head coach for 2024 and 2025 but the club has been negotiating an extension that would keep him there until the end of 2026. Burgess could then theoretically spend 12 months under Bennett, whose contract runs to the end of 2027, before taking over, similar to what Kristian Woolf has done under Bennett at the Dolphins.


Ben Hornby is currently in charge of the Bunnies on an interim basis until the end of 2024 and Bennett insists if it is up to him he will remain at the club as part of the coaching staff in 2025. "Absolutely, 100 per cent," Bennett said when asked whether Hornby will have a place at the club in 2025.

"We're great friends," he continued. "We won a premiership together (at St George Illawarra in 2010). We're on the same page about our thoughts on the game. He's also strong enough to tell me when I'm out of order, and vice versa. I have a great relationship with him. He's a very good coach.

"He's not my opposition (this year). He's got the easiest coaching job in the NRL right now in the sense I'll be there with him next year, he's trying to hold the club together, (and) he's doing a really good job while waiting for the new coach to come in when the new season starts."

SYDNEY, AUSTRALIA - MAY 02: Rabbitohs coach Ben Hornby talks to media following the round nine NRL match between South Sydney Rabbitohs and Penrith Panthers at Accor Stadium, on May 02, 2024, in Sydney, Australia. (Photo by Cameron Spencer/Getty Images)
Wayne Bennett insists Ben Hornby will remain at the club as part of the coaching staff in 2025.