Wayne Bennett like you’ve never seen him

 

Any doubts the rugby league world had that Wayne Bennett could pull off miracles has once again been dispelled

Despite fielding eight debutants against a NSW side that was an unbackable favourite, Bennett produced one of the great boilovers to claim game one of the 2020 State of Origin series with an 18-14 win at Adelaide Oval, .

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And the man at the centre of the celebrations and leading the festivities was none other than Bennett himself.

Only appointed for the role officially in early October, the mastermind orchestrated one of the great Origin performances with the never-say-die Queenslander attitude on full display.

NSW were up 10-0 at the break, with Queensland bouncing back to lead 18-10 before holding on for a famous result.

Before the match on Channel 9, Bennett admitted he still experienced nerves despite coaching more than 850 first grade games, plus three previous stints in charge of Queensland, 16 Tests in charge of Australia and another 19 for England and Great Britain.

But over the last 34 years in top level coaching, rarely have we seen Bennett like he was after this win.

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Wayne Bennett was on fire in the change rooms.
Wayne Bennett was on fire in the change rooms.

Hugging players as they entered the changerooms with a wide smile, Bennett was loving the celebrations.

Footage showed a giant smile plastered on his face as the 70-year-old master coach began to bust a move.

"There's something wrong with that, it's like Benjamin Button," Michael Ennis said on the Fox League post-game wrap.

Jess Yates added: "Enjoy this moment because it's not often we get to see Wayne Bennett smiling and dancing. How good."

Sitting down in front of the media, Bennett still couldn't completely wipe away the grin.

"I don't know what category you put it in but it was nice to win and I'm proud of what they did," he said.

Asked what he said at halftime, Bennett joked: "I'm at that stage in my life where I don't remember."

 

Queensland captain Daly Cherry-Evans said he felt the aura around Bennett and Mal Meninga, who made up the Maroons brains trust after stepping in following Kevin Walters being hired by the Brisbane Broncos.

Cherry-Evans said Bennett challenged some of the Maroons to get their hands on the ball and play more direct.

"I never have been coached by Wayne before and he has a presence about him," Cherry-Evans said. "Mal I have been lucky enough to be coached by him and he definitely has a presence amongst him. It is not unnerving or unsettling, but it makes you comfortable and sure of yourself. We had that tonight."

It was great to see Bennett like we have rarely seen him before.

Originally published as Wayne Bennett like you've never seen him


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