Newspaper article The Observer (Gladstone, Australia)

Wayne Bennett Has the Last Laugh

Newspaper article The Observer (Gladstone, Australia)

Wayne Bennett Has the Last Laugh

Article excerpt

LEAGUE OF

THEIR OWN

TONY DURKIN

ONE thing I learned in my seven years as communications manager at the Broncos was that Wayne Bennett does have a sense of humour.

And around this time of the year he doesn't mind the spotlight being trained on him.

Bennett's public persona may well be of a dry, dour footy coach, whose least enjoyable venture each week is fronting the post-match press conference.

But he can be the life of the party, particularly in the company of those he respects most - his players.

And occasionally -- and it is usually at a time when those players are under pressure -- Bennett will venture publicly with a gem.

He may only utter a few words, and often never elaborate, but it will be a headline grabber.

That was the case this week when he refused to confirm or deny the ever-ascending whispers that he is headed to the Cowboys next season.

His 'I can't give you an iron-clad guarantee about anything in this game' answer is typical coach speak from the man whose favourite pastime is sending journos on a wild goose chase.

And that titillating answer has certainly set the tongues wagging, as he also did when he cancelled two public appearances this week. If his diary is booked, his modus operandi is that he commits. But Bennett firstly reneged on launching Wendell Sailor's tell-all autobiography in Sydney on Wednesday, and then cancelled a guest speaking role at the annual Men of League luncheon in Brisbane yesterday.

The obvious conclusion is that he under-estimated the late-season run of success by the Knights. But again, could it merely be a ruse by the wily old coach to put the spotlight on him, and take the glare away from his team?

Today he would still be giggling to himself that just about everyone in the media has swallowed his bait.

Insecure Raiders

FINING David Shillington for making comments about the off-field issues which have cruelled the Raiders in recent years says more about the insecurity of club management than it does about the insubordination of their co-captain.

As a member of the Prime Minister's team, Shillington was asked a raft of questions concerning the Raiders and answered them -- as he always does -- articulately and with honesty. …

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