The 2021 season is set to be the end of an era in the NRL with South Sydney coach Wayne Bennett set to walk away from the Rabbitohs at the end of the season.
In two seasons at Redfern, the 71-year-old legendary coach has made the preliminary final twice, missing a Grand Final by a try in each season.
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Having claimed seven premierships already in his 34-year coaching career in the NRL, Bennett is undoubtedly one of the best coaches to have mentored in the game.
With a plan for long term assistant Jason Demetriou to take the helm at the club, Bennett has been linked to coaching director roles as well as roles with potential expansion clubs.
But regardless of where Bennett ends up next or if he sails into the sunset, South Sydney representative star Damien Cook wants to send him out of Redfern with another premiership.
Can Wayne go out a winner?Source:Getty Images
Speaking at the Fox League launch, ahead of the 2021 season that can be streamed on Kayo, Cook said Bennett deserved it.
“We want to do a good job for him,” he told news.com.au. “He came down here for a reason, he wanted to win a comp with South Sydney and he believed that he could. He wouldn’t have gone to a team that he doesn’t believe has a chance to win.
“He truly believes in us and that’s why he came here. We’ve got to make sure we do what’s right by him and follow his guidance and with those missing pieces to the puzzle, they might be the big help to make sure we go all the way and win it for Wayne in his last year.
“We don’t want to waste his time coming down here and being away from his family, especially his kids so we’ve got to make sure we do what’s right for him as well.”
The Rabbitohs have been close the past three seasons, including the 2018 season before Bennett and former Souths coach Anthony Seibold swapped clubs.
Damien Cook knows what number he wants to be.Source:News Corp Australia
But the Rabbitohs were the surprise packets of the preliminary finals last year, finishing sixth and coming home strong with crushing victories over the Sydney Roosters, Cronulla Sharks and Parramatta Eels before falling just short against the minor premier Penrith Panthers.
Few believed Souths could be contenders without another big forward, with the club signing Titans and Queensland star Jai Arrow.
Adding experienced campaigners Josh Mansour and Benji Marshall, Cook believes the trio can be the extra ingredients in a premiership run especially after exceeding expectations.
“There’s still the hunger to go on and win the premiership which a lot of us haven’t done at the club and with the new recruits, very experienced players as well, it’s given a lot of belief at the club that we can go that one more game and win the Grand Final,” Cook said.
The three new big names for the Rabbitohs.Source:Getty Images
“Jai’s been really good, I’m going to look forward to playing alongside him. He’s got a lot of leg speed, he’s a really aggressive player too so he’s going to be a great addition to our team. It’s probably one part we are a little bit lacking of so he’s going to be great for us.
“Josh Mansour is another one who has brought his professionalism over from Penrith and he’s doing it every day. Hopefully the younger guys will watch someone like Josh who’s done it all in the game and follow what he does and lift the standards around the club.
“And Benji, I’ve really enjoyed having Benji there. Especially for us senior players, he’s been keeping us accountable as well. We’ve got a lot of respect for him so we always listen to what he has to say and he’ll keep our standards up which will keep the whole team’s standards up as well. Hopefully we can put that all together and go on and win the comp.”
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