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The St George Illawarra Dragons wish to advise that Head Coach Wayne Bennett has urgently returned home to Australia from the United Kingdom for family reasons.

Bennett’s mother-in-law is gravely ill and he has returned home to Brisbane to be with his family and will not be with the Dragons for the remainder of their World Club Challenge Campaign.

Assistant Coach Steve Price will coach the team in the absence of Bennett for Sunday’s World Club Challenge Clash against Wigan at DW Stadium.

“It is important that I am with my family at this difficult time,” said Bennett. “I am happy with the team’s preparation for the World Club Challenge and am confident they will put in a quality performance.”

Dragons CEO Peter Doust said the Club and players were supportive and understanding of Wayne’s situation.

“We all understand Wayne’s circumstances and are supportive of his decision, it is important that he is with his family,” said Doust.

Ben Hornby endorsed the CEO’s remarks.

“Naturally we would all like to have Wayne with us on Sunday however we understand. We are confident with our preparation for the World Club Challenge against Wigan,” said Hornby.

RFL Chief Executive Nigel Wood said: “Our thoughts are with Wayne and his family at this difficult time. I am sure that Steve Price, the rest of the Dragons’ coaching team and the St George Illawarra players will respond on Sunday with a performance that will do credit to Wayne and the NRL champions.”