Hoffman waits 30 years for Bennett reunion
Ryan Hoffman's late call-up to the World All Stars team will enable him to share in a unique piece of history, becoming just the second father-son duo to be coached by Wayne Bennett at the elite level.
Called in to make his All Stars debut at Suncorp Stadium on Saturday night in place of Warriors teammate Simon Mannering, this week will mark the first time Hoffman has been coached by Bennett whose connection with the Hoffman family stretches all the way back to 1980 with Brisbane Brothers.
Bennett coached Hoffman's father Jay at Brothers and then at the Canberra Raiders in 1987, Ryan a three-year-old "little tacker who was probably getting in the way at training".
Brett Plowman and Lachlan Maranta are the other father-son duo to have played under Bennett and Hoffman said he was thrilled to include the seven-time premiership-winning coach on his list of rugby league mentors.
"My dad was coached by Wayne back in 1980 and then again in 1987 with the Raiders so I'm sure that makes Wayne feel pretty old," said Hoffman.
"You want to be coached by some of the greats of the game and fortunately I've had that with Ricky Stuart, Laurie Daley, Craig Bellamy and now to have that with Wayne Bennett, I'm quite honoured."
For Hoffman's resume to include 263 first grade games, 14 Origins for New South Wales and six Tests or Australia yet not an All Stars jersey shows the quality of players this contest has attracted since its inception in 2010.
Admitting he has been somewhat of a victim of the stringent selection criteria, the 32-year-old is ready to embrace what the week stands for and to celebrate the diverse range of cultures found within the NRL.
"I was always in teams with very good players that everyone wanted to see but my opportunity has come out of Simon's wife having a baby so I'm looking forward to the opportunity," he said.
"We're quite a multicultural game in the NRL so to recognise those other countries that help make us a great competition is really important.
"Pre-season is pretty busy but in terms of the World All Stars versus the Indigenous I'd like to see it continue.
"I was just talking to Jeremy Smith about it before and he said that I'd be surprised [by the intensity of the game].
"Obviously it's a really important game for the Indigenous boys but it's also an important game for us as World All Stars team.
"We've got Englishmen, Pacific Islanders, Kiwis and Australians all playing in the same team and it's an exciting team to be a part of."