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Bennett: Broncos players will decide if they follow me to Souths

Wayne Bennett said he strongly considered a switch to the Wests Tigers before settling on South Sydney and also moved to reassure Broncos fans he would not be raiding Brisbane's roster to beef up the Rabbitohs' squad.

But he refused to rule out the prospect of players at Brisbane following him to South Sydney in 2020 after it was announced on Thursday he had signed a three-year contract with the Rabbitohs.

Bennett has a long history of bringing players to clubs when he has moved from Brisbane to St George Illawarra and Newcastle and back to the Broncos, most notably Darius Boyd. 

Star trio Tevita Pangai jnr, Corey Oates and Matthew Lodge are yet to re-sign with the Broncos for 2019.

"I won't be looking to do that, no, but again you've got to understand the ramifications," Bennett said in Hull on Friday before England's final training session before Saturday's first Test against New Zealand.

"There's a number of players at the Broncos that specifically come to play because I'm the coach. And I'm not going to be the coach after '19. They're all big boys and have grown up, they'll have to make their own decisions with what they want to do."

Josh Hodgson warms up at England training on Friday.
Josh Hodgson warms up at England training on Friday. ©Bernard Platt/NRL Photos

Boyd has followed Bennett his entire career but his mentor expects the fullback to finish his career in Queensland. He joined Bennett at the Dragons in 2009, before moving to Newcastle in 2012 and back to the Broncos in 2015.

"Darius won't leave now, he's at the end of his career," Bennett said. "The other boys are there because I was there, it's up to them with what they want to do."

Souths stunned the NRL on Thursday afternoon when they announced they had signed the seven-time premiership-winning coach on a two-year deal starting in 2020. Wests Tigers were in the race for his signature but Bennett said they could not reach a deal.

"I did, I absolutely did, but they wanted a coach in '19 and I wasn't available. I'm committed to the Broncos, that hasn't changed. If they change their position at the Broncos, well, they'll have to come and have a talk to me about that," he said.

"I've said all along I've got a contract for 2019 and Souths recognise that and were happy to take me from 2020.

"It's my intention to fill that unless I'm told otherwise. It doesn't change anything for me but that's my position. If the Broncos have another position they'll have to address that - I know what my position is.

"It come about because Anthony [Seibold] was in discussion at the Broncos and I was told I wasn't required. Souths were feeling vulnerable that they were going to lose their coach and that's how it come about." 

Bennett will be in his 70s by the time his three-year contract at the Rabbitohs expires but said it would not necessarily be his last in the Telstra Premiership.

"I'm not ruling that out, one thing I've always done is been responsible," Bennett said.

"I'm not going to go one more day than I should as coach if I lose enthusiasm and passion for it.

"Age is not my issue. I won't be defined by that, I'll be defined by my commitment and passion. When I realise that's not there anymore I'll be the first to let you know and I'll walk away. I don't want to let anyone down, especially a club who has taken a chance on me."

The opportunity to link with Rabbitohs skipper Greg Inglis for the first time in their respective careers was also a drawcard in luring Bennett to Redfern seven years after he was all but signed to .

"It's a great club, an icon club with wonderful players. I've worked with Sam, Tom and George in the English team.

"Greg Inglis is there, one of the all-time great players of our game. I had an opportunity to go there seven years ago and didn't take it. I didn't want to miss this one and grabbed it now."

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