Wayne Bennett returns to coaching at Tonga

·2-min read

Wayne Bennett will make an international coaching return with Tonga, set to act in an advisory role in the lead-up to this month's Pacific Test against New Zealand.

Bennett will assist stand-in coach Dean Young ahead of the June 25 clash in Auckland, with regular coach Kristian Woolf staying back in the English Super League.

Young has previously held the role of assistant with Tonga and North Queensland, while playing under Bennett when the Dragons won the 2010 premiership.

Sika Manu will also act as an assistant.

Bennett's appointment comes as a massive coup for Tonga, who led the way in the Pacific revolution of international rugby league before COVID-19.

It marks the master coach's return to the international game after he last held the England and Great Britain job in 2019.

He has also previously had two stints with Australia, while acting in an advisory role when New Zealand won the 2008 World Cup.

The Tonga job will be his most hands-on role this season as he prepares to lead the Dolphins' first season in the NRL next year.

"No-one has had more success in coaching rugby league than Wayne Bennett, having him there will be a great experience for both the players and the staff," Woolf said.

"But we have been able to put together an amazing coaching staff with Dean, Wayne and Sika.

"Dean has been an assistant on the Tongan team previously and is one of the brightest young coaching prospects in the NRL.

"Sika was the captain of this team through a golden period and understands the passion of the Mate Ma'a Tonga.

"This is a strong coaching staff for what will ultimately be a new-look Tongan team missing some players from the English Super League, who will be playing an important international Test while competing for spots in the World Cup squad."

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