SOUTH Sydney will formally block Wayne Bennett’s expected bid to coach Queensland’s State of Origin side next season, via Dean Ritchie.
SOUTH Sydney will formally block Wayne Bennett’s expected bid to coach Queensland’s State of Origin side next season, via Dean Ritchie.

Rabbitohs block Bennett’s Origin bid

South Sydney will formally block Wayne Bennett's expected bid to coach Queensland's State of Origin side next season.

While Bennett has not sought permission to coach the Maroons, well-placed sources at Souths claim the seven-time premiership winning coach would be prohibited from returning to Origin duty given his already extensive responsibilities at Redfern and with the English Test side.

Kevin Walters could relinquish the Queensland coaching position as early as today if named head coach of Gold Coast Titans.

There was however increasing speculation Gold Coast may opt for Australian-born St Helens coach Justin Holbrook over Walters.

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Bennett has expressed an interest in coaching Queensland again. AAP Image/Joel Carrett.
Bennett has expressed an interest in coaching Queensland again. AAP Image/Joel Carrett.

Walters and Gold Coast still haven't engaged in meaningful dialogue despite suggestions Gold Coast could announce their new coach this morning.

It appears Walters and Holbrook are the only two candidates.

Should Walters be appointed Titans coach, he would immediately resign as Maroons coach with the Queensland Rugby League to kick start their chase for a replacement.

The QRL has drawn up a preliminary hit list with Bennett on top ahead of North Queensland's Paul Green.

Bennett, who turns 70 in January, has already publicly expressed an interest in coaching Queensland but hasn't made any formal moves yet.

The Daily Telegraph understands Souths will step in early and tell Bennett he cannot take on the heavy burden of coaching Origin along with NRL and England duties.

It remains to be seen whether the powerful Bennett is head strong about Queensland and Souths' decision causes angst.

Bennett has coached England for the past few years. Photo by Hannah Peters/Getty Images.
Bennett has coached England for the past few years. Photo by Hannah Peters/Getty Images.

There are concerns within Souths about the time Bennett would be absent during a draining seven-week Origin campaign.

"It would be a distraction the club doesn't need," a source close to Souths said. "With his commitments to Souths and England, take it as read Souths wouldn't be overly happy if Wayne wanted to coach Queensland."

It is unknown whether Souths would soften their attitude if Bennett stood down from England.

Bennett coached Queensland in 21 games, winning 11. His last game in charge of the Maroons was back in 2003.

In an interview last month, Bennett declared he would be able to handle dual roles at Souths and Queensland.

"I did it seven times during my coaching career so if I had to do (coach NRL and Queensland) again, and I wanted to do it again, and everyone was onside, it's doable," Bennett said.

Bennett last coached Queensland in 2003.
Bennett last coached Queensland in 2003.

"The challenge they've got with their rule is who's available. If Kevin does get an opportunity somewhere else and can't coach Origin again, in his first year of (NRL) coaching, (Queensland) wouldn't be his priority."

And in another interview, Bennett said: "If they feel there is a part for me to play and I feel I can do that, I will do that. It's as simple as that for me.

"If they thought I was the best and Kevin moved on and wasn't able to do it, I'd certainly look at it."

Bennett is off contract after this season but has previously expressed a desire to extend his contract to coach in the 2021 Rugby League World Cup, which will be held in England and France.

Other candidates for Queensland Origin job include Justin Hodges and Billy Slater but it is thought the pair wouldn't be ready just yet to be thrown into the Origin furnace.

North Queensland gave preliminary approval for Green to take on both roles but that stance may change given North Queensland's poor season.

Asked previously about the English job, Bennett said: "My contract is up at the end of this year so I've got to renegotiate if I want to be there and they want me."