regarded as one of the most astute coaches in either rugby code, when
Wayne Bennett speaks people listen.
One of his Broncos players once joked that if Bennett wasn’t a coach
“he’d be a telegraph pole”, while he’s also been
described as “Clint Eastwood without the gun”.
But behind that quiet, stern exterior is a man who thinks deeply about
life and sport. His philosophy is outlined in his best-selling book, “Don’t
Die with the Music In You”, a prescription for living life and playing
sport to the full.
The same common sense, consideration and thought has gone into his contribution
to DigiLeague, which draws on his years of experience as a player and
coach for Queensland and Australia.
As a player Wayne represented Queensland, on the wing and at fullback,
in seven matches against NSW from 1971 to ‘73. He played in two
provincial tour matches for Australia on the 1971 tour of New Zealand.
He entered coaching at Ipswich near Brisbane in 1976, then coached Brisbane
clubs Souths and Brothers, taking Souths to a premiership in 1985.
He was the Queensland Director of Coaching before accepting a full time
coaching position with the Canberra Raiders in 1987, leading them to their
first Grand Final appearance the same year.
The following year he joined the newly created Brisbane Broncos as their
inaugural coach and has been in that position ever since, guiding them
to five premierships (1992, 1993, 1997, 1998 and 2000), two World Club
Challenge titles, 1992 and 1997, and three pre-season titles, The Panasonic
Cup ‘89, Lotto Challenge ’91 and Tooheys Challenge ‘95.
Wayne Bennett was the coach of the successful Queensland State of Origin
sides in 1987 and ‘88 and was appointed the inaugural Queensland
Super League coach for the 1997 Tri-Series against NSW and New Zealand.
The Broncos’ success in 1997 in winning both the Telstra Cup and
the Visa World Club Championship led to him being named the Super League
‘Coach of the Year’.
He made a successful return to State of Origin coaching in 1998, guiding
the Queensland team to an historic 2-1 victory over NSW, then secured
the title again in 2001 and 2002.
He was paid the ultimate compliment in 1998 when chosen as the Australian
coach for the final two tests of the series against New Zealand after
Bob Fulton was forced to stand down for personal reasons. Down one-nil
in the series Australia clinched the final two tests to secure the Trans-Tasman
trophy, thus creating history by becoming the first coach to steer his
club, his state and his country to victory in their respective series.
He was named the Queensland coach of the year in 1998 by the Queensland
Sport Federation, and Australian domestic teams coach of the year by the
Australian Coaching Council.
In 2004 he was appointed Australian
coach for a second time, as one of the few to represent his country both
as a player and a coach.