Wayne Bennett rugby league coach
He grew up in a working class family in Warwick, Queensland with an alcoholic father who deserted the family when he was eight years old, forcing Wayne to enter the workforce at an early age. Before becoming involved with Rugby League on a full-time basis, Bennett worked as a police officer. He remains an avowed non-drinker.
Between 1970 and 1970, Bennett played rugby league for Warwick, Past Brothers (Brisbane), Ipswich and Souths Magpies (Brisbane). He was a talented winger who represented Queensland 7 times between 1971 and 1972, and played 2 tour matches for Australia on the 1971 tour of New Zealand. Bennett began coaching in Ipswich in 1976, before moving to Brothers and Souths. He tooks Souths to the 1984 grand final, which they lost to the Wynnum-Manly Seagulls. Revenge was to come a year later when the Bennett-coached Magpies defeated the Seagulls 10-8 to take the premiership.
In 1987 Bennett was appointed of co-coach of the Canberra Raiders, guiding the side to the Grand Final which the team lost to Manly 18-8. In that year he also began a two year stint as coach for the Queensland State of Origin team. Queensland won the series in both 1987 and 1988. Bennett would again coach Queensland in 1998, 2001, 2002 and 2003. His most controversial decision as Queensland coach was to recall Allan Langer to the Maroons from the English Super League. Bennett remains involved in coaching for Queensland through the Queensland Academy of Sport and in an off-field role with the Queensland Rugby League.
He was appointed as coach of the Brisbane Broncos in 1988, and in 2005 is still the only person to serve as first grade coach for the team. Under Bennett the Broncos have won premierships in 1992, 1993, 1997, 1998 and 2000.
National coaching honours first came in 1998 when Bennett was appointed to replace Bob Fulton as Kangaroos coach. Australia was undefeated in two test matches against the Kiwis. Bennett is a passionate advocate of international Rugby League, and was instrumental in the revival of the Tri-nations series in 2004. In that year he was again appointed to coach Australia, and took Australia to reclaim the Trans-Tasman Trophy (lost to New Zealand in 2003) and win the second Rugby League Tri-nations Series.
On January 26 2004, he was made a Member (AM) in the General Division award in the 2004 Australia Day Honours list.Bennett received his award for service to Rugby League football, particularly as a coach, and to the community.
He is married to Trish Bennett and won a Queensland Father of the Year award for helping to raise two of his children with disabilities. He appeared on Australian Story on ABC TV to tell the story about his family life which was one of the most popular programs in the history of that show. With journalist Steve Crawley he wrote Don't Die with the Music in You which has become one of the best selling books about rugby league in Australia's history (ISBN 0733311075 - ABC Books Australia)
- 1997 Superleague Coach of the Year
- 2000 NRL Coach of the Year
If you want to be mentally tough, do as Wayne Bennett says: follow your beliefs and don't give in to yourself. — Steve Waugh
Wayne is a man whose success is built on loyalty, discipline and an innate recognition of individual worth. — Lachlan Murdoch
Will I miss him? I miss coaching against them all. I will say that it is a shame that Wayne won't be there. With all due respect to Michael Hagan, Wayne Bennett and Queensland go hand in hand.
I enjoy coaching against quality coaches, and Wayne Bennett is that. I have really enjoyed coaching against Wayne for the last two years. — Phil Gould (rugby league coach), New South Wales State of Origin coach