Don Furner’s walkie talkie moment with Wayne Bennett will go down in rugby league folklore

Don Furner’s passing at the age of 87 on Monday night brought back memories of his infamous use of walkie talkies with assistant coach Wayne Bennett back in 1987.

As the legend goes the pair spent $5,000 on walkie talkies ahead of the Grand Final against Manly, which they eventually lost 18-8.

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Veteran journalist Phil Rothfield revealed the paranoia particularly Bennett displayed in the lead-up to the title decider.

“Wayne wasn’t as calm in those days, he was quite paranoid,” Rothfield told NRL 360 on the eve of the 2019 semi-final between the Raiders and Rabbitohs.

“He asked me into his office and we had a sandwich there and he’d just been on the phone because he claimed there’d been a spy in the camp when they played the Roosters the previous week at the cricket ground, and somehow they’d tapped into his frequency on his walkie talkie.


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“He was worried that this might happen against Manly, so being an old policeman, he got onto one of his old contacts.

“That week he talked John McIntyre into spending about $5,000, which was a lot of money then, to come up with the top unit the police could provide, to stop Manly having any chance of intercepting his calls.

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“Because the week before, he had to move from the member’s stand to the sideline and coach from down there.”

Rothfield believes Furner was responsible for giving Bennett the perfect start to his coaching career by taking a back seat that season.

Don Furner during the 1987 Grand Final.Source:FOX SPORTS

“With great respect to Don Furner, Don clearly passed the footy team over to him that year,” Rothfield said.

“I can still clearly see them at training now, Don on the sideline and Wayne running it out there. But it was done beautifully.”

Bennett moved on the following season to the Broncos where he won six premierships.

Furner coached the Roosters from 1970 to 1972 and the Raiders from 1982 to 1987 as well as NSW and Australia in a storied career.

Originally published asDon Furner’s walkie talkie moment with Wayne Bennett will go down in rugby league folklore

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