Renowned NRL mentor, Wayne Bennett, praised Sam Burgess‘ character, calling him a “bona fide bloke” he longed to have on his team at the Dolphins. He also stoutly defended Jason Demetriou, the presently beleaguered coach of the Rabbitohs.
Previously serving as the coach at South Sydney, Bennett handed over the reins to Demetriou to join Brisbane’s latest NRL team. He was quick to silence critics of Rabbitohs‘ superstars Latrell Mitchell and Cody Walker, who were allegedly tied to the turmoil leading to Burgess’s resignation from his assistant coaching position Wednesday.
With a bye for this weekend and a looming necessity to topple the Roosters in the final round sans the suspended Mitchell, the Souths are feeling the heat to qualify for the finals. Bennett professed Burgess would be his top choice to stand with him amidst such a crisis.
“Sam was my first choice for the Dolphins coach,” Bennett admitted, affirming his interest in having Burgess by his side.
“He and the team could have greatly benefitted from each other. Sadly, influential people persuaded him it wasn’t his best move, leading to him declining the offer,” Bennett explained his unsuccessful courting of Burgess.
“He’s a genuine bloke. If you find yourself in a hard segment, he would be your go-to guy.”
“His presence influences players. They pick up the aura, the energy,” Bennett added; a quality he believed would have enriched his current roster.
“Jason is now leading the team. This incident can serve as a perfect instance of how things can go awry when you’re on a losing streak and how you manage it,” Bennett opined.
“The team is undeniably feeling the pressure. They haven’t been up to par in the eyes of many.”
“Pressure is a defining element for teams, individuals and coaches; it’s how you deal with it that holds the key.”
Regarding Mitchell and Walker, singled out for receiving preferential treatment at the club, Bennett voiced his admiration, describing them as “top blokes,” saying that managing them wasn’t challenging.
“I thoroughly enjoyed guiding them,” he shared.
“They are indeed wonderful individuals.”