Wayne Bennett signs as NRL expansion club's foundation coach

·1-min read
Wayne Bennett, Australia's most successful rugby league coach, poses for a photo in Brisbane's suburb of Redcliffe, Thursday, Oct. 21, 2021. Bennett will be taking over the National Rugby League's newest team after he agreed to lead the Redcliffe-based Dolphins into the top tier in 2023. (Darren England/AAP Image via AP)

BRISBANE, Australia (AP) — Australia’s most successful rugby league coach will be taking over the NRL’s newest team after Wayne Bennett agreed to lead the Redcliffe-based Dolphins into the top tier in 2023.

Bennett was the foundation coach at the Brisbane Broncos in 1988 and took just five seasons to deliver the club its first premiership title.

Including his role in helping the Canberra Raiders’ reach the grand final in 1987, Bennett has guided four different clubs — also St. George-Ilawarra and this season’s runners-up South Sydney — to the league’s title match.

The 71-year-old Bennett has also coached at international level, guiding Australia’s Kangaroos before working with the Britain and New Zealand teams, and led Queensland to five State-of-Origin series wins over New South Wales — including a remarkable upset in 2020.

Bennett signed a four-year deal with the Dolphins, based on Brisbane’s northeastern fringes. The Dolphins won a bid earlier this month to be the first expansion team in the National Rugby League since 2007. The club will join the competition in 2023.

The Redcliffe Dolphins were first formed in 1947 and fielded teams in the Brisbane first-grade premiership and the Queensland Cup.

“This is an established club,” Bennett said Thursday. “And I recognize that it’s my job to come in here and work within this framework.

“When we started in 1988 at the Broncos . . . we had no club, we had no ground, we had virtually nothing. But it’s a wonderful, wonderful facility here. Extremely well run, very successful. So it’s a different context."

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