Let's leave Bennett and the past behind


Even in the eventuality Wayne Bennett does become a newly single coach looking longingly at his ex and remembering days gone by, St George Illawarra should move on from the romantic notion of the master coach's return.

Rather than swoon over a repeat of 2010 and King Wayne coming back to Wollongong, Steve Price, Dragons fans, deserves your full attention.

The fact of the matter is Price has needed time to remodel the Dragons, because Bennett left the roster highly geared towards winning a premiership inside three years, not future planning.

As a result, you saw the exit of Jeremy Smith, Neville Costigan and to some extent Darius Boyd and Beau Scott.

Why chief executive Peter Doust knocked back the notion of a five-year deal for Bennett in the first place will remain one of the great mysteries of rugby league.

Instead, Bennett is now in charge of a football club facing legal proceedings to be wound up by the tax office over substantial debt.

Newcastle should be safe in the short-term, even in the worst case scenario because of a bank guarantee, though how much cash they have to keep their big names, including Bennett, remains to be seen.

But let's say Bennett is out of pocket and does come back on the market, the Dragons should look to the future not the past.

Bennett hardened the club's mentality by making the most of the "chokers" created from the past.

It motivated the Dragons to the point where nothing would stand in the way of St George Illawarra and premiership success in 2010.

Dean Young is a case in point, his form at the time was extraordinary.

But don't race misty eyed to the top of Mt Ousley in your Red V jersey waiting for Bennett to ride back in on his white horse, two years after moving to Tinkler town. Times have changed, it's now a new post-Young, Ben Hornby, Mark Gasnier era, without the baggage of the past.

Meanwhile, the rumour abounds Doust is willing to throw $1 million at Craig Bellamy to move from Melbourne, the memory of Bennett's empire which followed Nathan Brown's near misses still apparently lingering in the mind.

True or otherwise, it does little to stabilise the club, when Price probably has about 10 or 12 weeks to prove himself next year.

A torch needs to be turned on the post-Bennett gloom and light the way for Price to walk his own path.

Price has been hamstrung by more than one recruiting bungle by the club in recent months and let me make it clear, their reputation isn't great among several player managers.

Wayne Bennett, left, and Steve Price.

Wayne Bennett, left, and Steve Price.

This is the root cause of their failure to land Michael Jennings or Cooper Cronk and numerous others, not because of Price's inferior standing as a coach compared to Bennett.

Price is a product of St George Illawarra's system, so his coaching record next year will be the reflection of the club's success and failure.


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