Wayne Bennett helped pilot South Sydney into the NRL grand final, then unloaded both barrels on his former employers at the Brisbane Broncos in a dramatic aftermath to the Rabbitohs’ 36-16 win over Manly.
Bennett stands on the verge of winning his eighth NRL title should he engineer a victory over either Melbourne or Penrith next weekend. Six of those came from his time at the Broncos, a club that sacked Bennett at the end of 2018 after a prolonged and bitter dispute that spilled into the public domain.
If revenge is a dish best served cold, Bennett may as well have just tramped in from Mawson Station as he accused Brisbane officials of trying “undermine” his potential move from Red Hill to Redfern, where he has now helped the Rabbitohs overcome their preliminary final jitters and move into their first decider since 2014.
“I will say publicly, they (Brisbane) undermined me in their conversations with Souths. They didn’t do a little job on me, they did the best job they possibly could,” Bennett said.
“To Souths’ credit, there were some people there who had worked with me before, they were happy to bite the bullet and give me the opportunity.
“I owe (Souths owner) Russell Crowe, and hopefully tonight is part of the repayment, what the team has done. The chairman as well, Nick Pappas, he’s been wonderful. And all the board. The support was refreshing to be honest with you, the last three years have been as refreshing as a long time.”
When asked why he was so determined to continue when it was clear the Broncos, a club he played a major part in building, felt he had little more to offer, Bennett said: “They felt a lot of things. I wasn’t listening to them.
“I spent a lifetime being honest with myself. If I thought I was washed up as a coach, I wouldn’t coach another day, because I’d let people down. I’ll determine that. Nobody is going to determine it for me.