Wayne Bennett refuses to fuel speculation he will replace Jason Demetriou as South Sydney NRL coach

Joel Gould
3 Min Read
Wayne Bennett has been tipped to replace Jason Demetriou at South Sydney.
Wayne Bennett has been tipped to replace Jason Demetriou at South Sydney. Credit: Supplied

The rugby league world can “keep guessing” about where Wayne Bennett will coach in 2025 as the Dolphins mentor refuses to buy into speculation over what he might do next.

Commentator Phil Gould has speculated that Bennett - who is contracted to the Dolphins to the end 2024 - was “a zillion to one” to return to South Sydney should under-fire head coach Jason Demetriou be sacked. On Wednesday South Sydney denied reports the club was also looking to get Mal Meninga as their coach.

“Everyone is having an opinion on it. My opinion is the one that matters but I’m not sharing it with anyone, so keep guessing guys,” Bennett said when asked on Thursday whether he was open to a Rabbitohs return, where he coached for three seasons.

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“I am (at the Dolphins) until the end of the season and I have made no decisions about going anywhere or doing anything,” he said.

“So we will wait and see.”

The 74-year-old has previously said he has no intention of retiring and joked he might consider a foray into journalism

“I don’t know what I want to be. Make me an offer. I might want to do your job,” he said, when quizzed over whether he’s likely to remain a head coach.

While at Brisbane, Bennett was announced in April 2008 as St George Illawarra coach for the following season.

His move from the Dragons to Newcastle in 2012 was also announced the previous April.

The Dolphins have a role for Bennett beyond this year if he wants it but he denied talk he would wait until the end of the 2024 season before making a call

“I’ll see what I want to do and what’s happening in my life,” he said.

“I could still be (at the Dolphins) next year. Who knows?

“Don’t try and predict the future. That’s the only tip I’m giving you.”

Bennett played a major role in the succession plan that led to Demetriou moving from being his assistant to taking over as Rabbitohs head coach in 2022.

SYDNEY, AUSTRALIA - APRIL 09:  Rabbitohs head coach Jason Demetriou looks on during a South Sydney Rabbitohs NRL training session at USANA Rabbitohs Centre on April 09, 2024 in Sydney, Australia.  (Photo by Matt King/Getty Images)
Jason Demetriou served under Wayne Bennett before taking over at Souths. Credit: Matt King/Getty Images

He said he had “no idea” what was behind Souths’ poor start to the year under his former apprentice, but took a shot at administrators who can be quick to find a sacrificial lamb for poor performances.

“I know Jason is a good coach and something has gone amiss. That is their problem and they will have to sort it out,” he said.

“The coach takes all of the responsibility and the club takes none. That is the tragedy of all this stuff.

“That is the job we take on. We know that is our life.

“We also know it can go pear-shaped very quickly and that is what has happened there.”

Bennett has emerged through plenty of turbulence in his own career and said Demetriou would have to do the same.

“It just goes with the job. If you can’t handle the pressure you shouldn’t be in the job,” he said.

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