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What makes Wayne Bennett great

What makes Wayne Bennett great

The title of 'coach' is seemingly a throwaway; honorific, rarely given a second thought, used to label those who give instruction to a playing group.

 

Seldom do we think about what being a 'coach' fully entails. They teach a group skill and tactics but what can be easily overlooked is that, principally, they are teaching human beings.

There is an art to dealing with people and no coach understands that more than Broncos mentor Wayne Bennett.

Bennett's return to Brisbane, with some tinkering of the roster, has transformed a side with sporadic form that was lucky to have made the finals last year into the benchmark of consistency and one of the competition's genuine chances in 2015.

This comes as no surprise to recently retired Cowboy Brent Tate, who entered the NRL in 2001 under Bennett's tutelage.

The pair have been close ever since and Tate says it is that "comfort" between a player and his coach which is likely the reason for the rejuvenation at Red Hill.

"The boys are probably comfortable, I would imagine," Tate told NRL.com.

"Wayne's got that wonderful ability to give you that level of comfort in yourself, that's his greatest attribute.

"The boys probably aren't looking over their shoulders, worried about their spot in the team. They're all really comfortable with their positions in the team. They know that if they play well they will be in the team and if they don't they won't be. He makes you work hard.

"I've been coached by some great coaches but Wayne is definitely the best man manager out of all of them, hands down. I think it's what Wayne's been blessed with and I think that's a big part of why he's so good – he's always got an answer for everything, whether it's life, money, relationships. Whatever it is Wayne manages to have an answer. He's been blessed with wisdom, Wayne, and he knows what to say at the right time."

On top of Bennett's reputation – built over almost 30 years in the coaching game – devotees like fullback Darius Boyd are a living, breathing testimony to his managerial acumen.

If a player with the status of Boyd holds Bennett in such high regard, his teammates are likely to follow suit.

Bennett's positive effect on Boyd has been well chronicled recently and stems from Bennett's ability to relate to players.

Following his appointment at Brisbane, the NRL's oldest coach was labelled too old and out of touch. At 65, Bennett is almost 20 years older than the league average for coaches (46), but with that comes unrivalled experience in both the game and life.

"He's had a pretty full life himself, obviously with kids and his upbringing. He's just a wise man who has been around a long time. He's just a wonderful, wonderful person. I love talking to him and spending time with him. It's probably why he's able to help players like Darius," Tate said.

"He's taught me some life lessons and principles back when I was a kid that I still carry with myself and often use even today. He probably makes you a better person than a better footballer and not too many people are able to do that, that's for sure. And more often than not, when you become a better person you become a better footballer."

No game illustrated Bennett's influence more than last Sunday afternoon's shutdown of Melbourne where hooker Andrew McCullough equalled a club record with 64 tackles as they fended off 11 goal-line dropouts and kept the Storm scoreless in the second half.

After ranking seventh in defence last season, the Broncos are now top four defensively and have set up their run home well enough to implement a rest rotation for veterans during Origin, with Sam Thaiday this week sitting out after Corey Parker earned a break last week.

The Broncos are back at home on Friday night when they face the Newcastle Knights.

Video courtesy of broncos.com.au

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