Bennett’s 14th time in prelim territory
EVEN at age 70, South Sydney coach Wayne Bennett keeps finding 14 carat gold.
Unbelievably, Saturday night’s grand final qualifier against Penrith will be Bennett’s 14th preliminary final.
And that doesn’t include two major semi-final wins where his sides advanced directly past the preliminary final into the grand final.
Bennett has secured preliminary finals in 1987, ’90, ’93, ’98, 2000, ’01, ’02, ’06, ’10, ’13, ’15, ’17, ’19 and now ’20.
That’s 14 grand final qualifiers in 33 years of coaching — a remarkable success rate of 42 per cent. Bennett has progressed to win six premierships.
This is his second successive preliminary final since arriving at Redfern last year.
Bennett has come up against the greatest coaches in his preliminary finals
— Arthur Beetson, Tim Sheens, Phil Gould, Chris Anderson, Brian Smith, Ricky Stuart, Steve Folkes, Trent Robinson and Craig Bellamy. He has won seven of his 13 preliminary finals and has now reached grand final qualifiers in 2020, ’10, ’00 and 1990.
“There has been a lot of talk about how there was no manual or guidebook for how a club or coach should deal with the changes caused by the pandemic,” said Souths CEO Blake Solly.
“But through all this uncertainty, Wayne has bought a huge amount of experience and stability to the Rabbitohs.”
Bennett’s first preliminary final was when co-coaching Canberra with the legendary Don Furner against Easts at the SCG back in 1987.
The master coach has led five clubs in preliminary finals
– Canberra, Brisbane, Newcastle, St George Illawarra and South Sydney. The Rabbitohs contested last year’s grand final qualifier, losing 16-10 to Canberra at GIO Stadium.
“Wayne and the coaching staff have tremendous trust and confidence in the players, and the players have used that to have trust and confidence in each other,” Solly said. “In many ways the club has been the beneficiary of Wayne’s vast experience and success.”