I was never leaving: Wayne Bennett. Photo: Darren PatemanKnights coach Wayne Bennett has indicated he will remain in charge of Newcastle’s NRL club for the final two years of his four-year contract.
Bennett has been linked to the vacancy at the North Queensland Cowboys, or a return to the Brisbane Broncos, but at a media conference on Monday he blamed the media for ongoing speculation about his future and said he was “never leaving the Knights”.
In an article on Monday in News Corporation’s The Daily Telegraph, the Knights’ official newspaper, Bennett was quoted as saying: “I’m staying”.
Asked by a reporter at the media conference on Monday to repeat that statement, Bennett said: “Why do you want to hear it from me for?”
“It started with the media. You just keeping going on about it. You absolutely fascinate me.
“I’ve said what I’ve said today, and I don’t really want to keep going on about it until you raise its head again somewhere in six months time when some other club hasn’t got a coach.”
Bennett said he reaffirmed his commitment to the Knights almost a year ago when the Australian Taxation Office, seeking more than $3 million in unpaid tax, moved to liquidate eight companies linked to Knights owner Nathan Tinkler, including the Knights, the Newcastle Jets A-League club and their parent company, the Hunter Sports Group.
Asked on Monday why he had decided to stay at the Knights, Bennett said: “Well I was never leaving the Knights. It comes back to you [media] people. It starts with you [media] people.
“It’s fascinated me the rubbish that went on about it. Here I am justifying why I’m staying here. I’m here. Do you understand that? … Don’t you ever read your own articles or read what’s said?
“This time last year, about December last year, I came out publicly and said even then, when there were some issues or other things around the club with regards to Nathan, I made the point then. It looks like I’ve got to do it every couple of months here. It’s a funny place.”
Cowboys chief executive Peter Jourdain fuelled speculation about Bennett’s future in News Corporations’s Sunday Telegraph when he was quoted as saying the Townsville-based club would be interested in pursuing Bennett if he was available.
Speaking before the Roosters had eliminated the Knights from the title race with a 40-14 victory at Allianz Stadium on Saturday night, Jourdain said the Cowboys had delayed any announcement on a replacement for coach Neil Henry until after the NRL grand final “because the person or persons in the short-list could well be involved in the grand final”.
“It probably wouldn’t be fair to either team to have it announced before that,” Jourdain said.
“We’re going to have to go through contract negotiations, so if they’re involved in the grand final it’s not going to happen that same week.”
Bennett said he was unaware of Jourdain’s comments.
“I haven’t read what he’s said, or anybody else. I never applied for a job up there, I never went for an interview for a job up there,” Bennett said.
“As I said, it started somewhere else and had nothing to do with me.”
It is understood Manly assistant coach Brad Arthur is the favourite for the Cowboys job as Roosters assistant coach Paul Green, another candidate, has reportedly been told by the Cowboys that he has missed out on the position.
The Newcastle Herald
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