Wayne Bennett is set to be unveiled in the coming days to coach the Queensland Maroons for the 2020 State of Origin series with QRL chairman Bruce Hatcher insisting he will be "the perfect fit" if he gets the gig.
Seventeen years after Bennett last coached the Maroons, the 70-year-old South Sydney coach is prepared to take charge of Queensland in unprecedented circumstances.
Kevin Walters, who coached the Maroons in the past four series, has been appointed as the new Brisbane Broncos coach and will provide assistance to Queensland and the new coach in the coming month.
The QRL board met on Wednesday afternoon to discuss the replacement for Walters.
If appointed as expected, Bennett will take the reins for the Maroons ahead of the November 4 series opener in Adelaide.
"I think we are going to have the youngest and most inexperienced Origin team that we have ever had," Hatcher told NRL.com.
"The fact Wayne is in the hurly burly of coaching with South Sydney – and that’s of all age groups – I just think he is the perfect fit for us this year in what will only be a one-series appointment.
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"If you look back in his series in charge of the Maroons he has always come in when Queensland needed real leadership and he has performed."
Hatcher said there was still more work to be done to get Bennett over the line.
"Before the appointment can be announced a whole lot of the commercial details have got to be sorted out,” he said.
"The board has met but there is a whole lot of dotting ‘i’s’ and crossing ‘t’s’ to be done before we can go forward."
Maroons legend and FOGS board member Chris Close said the QRL would be wise to appoint Bennett.
"Wayne is the best coach in the business and he has that little bit of magic. He has the experience and understanding of Origin so he is the complete package," Close told NRL.com.
"He would be a great choice because he won’t go in there and want to change anything. He also has nothing to prove. He’s done it all.
"Right at the moment he is just what Queensland needs to get back into that winning sector. He will know exactly what that team needs and will pick up where Kevvie left off."
Bennett, who was earlier in the mix with Mal Meninga and Paul Green as possible replacements for Walters, has coached Queensland in 22 Origin matches and won five of the seven series where he was the mentor.
In 1998 at the end of the Super League war he returned to coach the Maroons to a 2-1 series win. After a two-year break from Origin he returned in 2001 at the urging of Maroons godfather Dick "Tosser" Turner and Queensland legends Chris Close and Gene Miles following the 3-0 series loss to NSW in 2000.
Bennett orchestrated a 2-1 series win in 2001, famously bringing Allan Langer from England to inspire victory in the series decider at Brisbane’s ANZ Stadium.
Close said it was a case of cometh the hour, cometh the man in 2020, exactly as it was back in 2001.
He was the Maroons team manager under Bennett in 2001 and was devastated by the 2000 series debacle. He had sleepless nights searching for answers, and then made a call that changed Origin history.
"I put that call out. I did that personally,” Close recalled.
"I rang Wayne and I said 'we need you to step up because we are in no-man’s land. We can turn our back or take it on and do what we need to get Queensland on track'.
"Wayne came back, thankfully, when we needed him the most."
The fruits of that return are still being realised today.
"Wayne brought the professionalism back into it,” Close said.
"He started the pre-Origin identification camps that still continue now and we put some stuff together that culminated in 2006 when Mal took over, and the next 10 years were ours.
"He brought Alfie back and did everything he needed to do, and he will do that again this time."