This week in Big League magazine
When I learnt that Wayne Bennett was going to break the all-time coaching record this weekend I wanted to talk to the supercoach about all manner of topics relating to his extraordinary career in the game.
I had about 20 questions lined up that would hopefully uncover some of the secrets to his success.
What’s true of all footballers? What is the basis on which all of his game-plans are built upon? How has living away from his family the past five years affected him? Is Allan Langer the funniest person he knows?
I soon realised Wayne would probably prefer not to talk about any of it, particularly after a loss on a wet Saturday night in June.
Which is a shame, because when Wayne talks – when he really wants to say something – players, fans and the media sit transfixed by his every word.
Perhaps because he normally says so little – save for his uncanny knack for a perfectly delivered one-liner much in the style of cricket doyen Richie Benaud – when he does speak we know he’s not just trotting out clichés to fill column space.
So when he walked into the press conference after last Saturday’s loss to South Sydney – and following the obligatory pleasantries about the good points to his team’s performance – Wayne put a regularly-debated topic under an extreme spotlight.
Phil Gould – another man with the ability to stop a room with mere words – has been outspoken on the ‘prowler’ tackle all season and after watching a third Knights player succumb to injury at the hands of a technique he admits to coaching himself, Wayne decided to speak his mind.
And we lapped it up. Many people probably hold similar thoughts but unless you’re Wayne Bennett your outspoken-ness is restricted to the pub, your living room or the kitchen area at work.
Wayne himself is a member of the Competition Committee and will undoubtedly push for a review at the end of the season but can we truly legislate against a man tackling around the legs?
It’s been a hotly-debated topic all week, all because Wayne chose his words carefully and timed it perfectly. As he always does.
Due to his sheer size, I’d like to take this moment to personally apologise to George Burgess. In our most recent fan poll we were after your tip on the 2013 Rookie of the Year.
As George had played three games for the Rabbitohs last season we – incorrectly – assumed that made him ineligible for this year’s rookie award. Players can play up to and including three games the previous year and still be in the running.
And judging by his man-of-the-match performance last Saturday night against Newcastle, we’re quite confident that big George is going to poll very well come Dally M Medal night.