Seven minutes with Wayne

Seven minutes with Wayne

On the morning the Dolphins staked their claim on their soon-to-be home ground, Suncorp Stadium, hanging a jersey in the dressing room and taking over the scoreboard, Dolphins NRL coach Wayne Bennett spoke exclusively to Moreton Daily about his plans and the importance of community.

How’s the first week been in the job?

Not too bad. I wouldn’t want to be in Terry Reader’s job. He’s got a lot more responsibility at the moment than I do and has a lot of things to set up but mine’s been pretty good.

What’s been the focus?

Just getting off the ground, starting to make contacts, starting to build relationships with people.

It’s a special role you’ve taken on, foundation coach, why did you want to do that again?

I was unemployed. It’s as simple as that. I needed a job.

Yes, but it’s a big job starting something from the ground up …

That’s the part that kind of challenges you more as well because you’ve got a clean sheet. You’ve got to start from zero. It gives you a lot of opportunities but there’s also lots of dangers with that. You’re not inheriting somebody else’s problems, so there’s pluses and minuses.

How exciting is it to be a part of the launch of the first jersey, the heritage jersey, colours?

I’m excited for the club and all the supporters and being in the NRL, it’s pretty special. It’s a whole new life, it’s a whole new challenge and these people have worked so hard to get there, the fans and everyone’s jumping on board now. That’s what really makes me feel good, personally.

What are the most important aspects in developing young players?

Just having a good club, that’s the best part, that stands for something, people you can trust who have good relationships with families, mums and dads. I’m sure that’s there now in many ways, but I certainly want to enhance that and make it a club that everyone’s proud to be a part of.

You’ve mentioned your preference is for culture over talent … what does that look like?

Not always taking the star player, sometimes taking the guy that’s not a star but has got good values and is a very reliable person. Making sure that if you make a decision, you make it based on the fact that this person is reliable, he’s trustworthy and will do the work rather than taking on … let’s hope this guy can be trusted and he can do a good job.

Where do you start with a clean slate?

We’ve got to get our recruitment guy first and foremost. He’s our number one priority, then we’ve got to start to get players. After that, all the other people can come later in the year because most of them haven’t got roles right now. We’ve got a state league team that’s well looked after and Grant Cleal will head that team up and that’s been in existence a long time, so we don’t want to interfere with that too much. We’ll make sure we’re all moving the same direction. I want to make sure those boys in the under-21s, the state league and the under-18s, under-16s all feel part of the Dolphins in the NRL. I don’t want us to have two separate identities.

How is the coaching department coming together?

Very slow. It’s not a priority.

There was some talk about Justin Hodges and a role he might play?

Well, I’ve got to talk to Justin. I haven’t spoken to Justin.

How involved are you planning to get in a community I’m guessing you’ll call home?

I won’t be throwing parties and inviting them over. That’s not in my nature.

Will you be chatting to the oldies at the shops?

I’ll be happy to chat to people – old young and everything in between. I don’t have any airs and graces about myself. I value community and I value what it means to community. I want them to be proud of this. We won’t always have great days, but what I want them to know and understand is that we will be doing our best. If we have a bad day, bad behaviour or some other thing that puts us in that position, it will be addressed and taken care of in a proper and fitting manner because those things are important to me. I want mums and dads and little boys and girls growing up wanting to be a Dolphin. I was brought up in that environment in a small country town called Allora and it’s lived with me ever since. Everywhere I’ve gone, I’ve tried to drive that. So, we’re all part of one big family. We’re here to entertain the fans to make them proud of us and want to support us and I take our community responsibilities very seriously.

Welcome to Redcliffe, some call it God’s country, some call it paradise …

I’ve been in God’s country, so I’m not sure about that one. There’s cows and horses there, that’s God’s country to me. It (Redcliffe) is a beautiful place, a beautiful part of Queensland. The bridge separates us, but we’ll all be one.

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