Written by Oliver Kellner-Dunk
Wayne Bennett is one of if not the greatest coach in Rugby League history
He is largely known for his achievements at multiple NRL clubs and the Queensland State of Origin team but the 72-year-old also has quite the international resume.
His most recent international coaching job was with England and Great Britain but Bennett left the role after Great Britain toured New Zealand and Papua New Guinea in 2019 where they failed to win a single game.
Bennett has also coached Australia in the past and was an assistant coach for New Zealand when the Kiwis won the 2008 Rugby League World Cup.
It has recently been announced that Bennett would be taking on a similar role for the Tongan national team when they take on New Zealand in a warm-up test on the 25th of June at Mt Smart Stadium ahead of this year’s World Cup.
Tonga’s head coach Kristian Woolf has released a statement on why Bennett has joined his coaching staff.
“My commitment to St Helens and the inability of the representative and international weeks to line up in the two hemispheres means it is not possible to be in New Zealand for a week during the Super League season,” said Woolf.
“But we have been able to put together an amazing coaching staff with Dean [Dean Young], Wayne and Sika [Sika Manu].
“No one has had more success in coaching rugby league than Wayne Bennett – having him there will be a great experience for both the players and the staff.”
As Woolf will not be available for Tonga’s test against New Zealand it seems Bennett will largely take over his duties as head coach for the game.
Bennett was last in the coach’s box for the South Sydney Rabbitohs when they were defeated by the Penrith Panthers in the 2021 NRL Grand Final and soon after signed on as The Dolphins inaugural head coach ahead of their introduction to the NRL in 2023.
This year he has primarily been focused on building The Dolphins’ squad and so far has signed an experienced forward pack along with a few outside backs.