Bennett hits back at player and staff speculation
NEW Rabbitohs' coach Wayne Bennett has refuted reports he is trying to lure Broncos' players and staff to Redfern.
Bennett stressed on Tuesday during his first press conference as Rabbitohs' coach that he signed a deal under certain conditions.
The master coach also moved to shoot down a number of myths, that have circulated around his appointment as Rabbitohs' coach.
With Anthony Seibold bringing in his own support staff at the Broncos, it was assumed that Bennett was doing the same at South Sydney, but he denied any other staff would follow him to Redfern.
"That's a bit of a myth actually and I want to clear that up," Bennett said.
"There are guys up there that have been told to go gardening for a week. There is four of them that have been sidelined for a week and have been told to go away and their futures will be decided next week.
"I have great empathy for those people and that hasn't happened here.
"There is not one person that has been told to go gardening and not one guy has lost his job.
"When I was interviewed for the job for 2020, Shane Richardson told me that I couldn't bring staff with me. He said they have a wonderful staff here and they are all contracted and I said that is fine, I don't want someone losing their job because I am turning up.
"That's how it has turned out and it was a pleasure to work with them this morning."
Broncos' assistant coach Jason Demetriou was linked to a move to the Rabbitohs to work under the former Brisbane coach, but Bennett denied the reports.
"No he is not coming at the moment," Bennett said.
"He has never been part of the discussions. None of the Broncos' staff were ever part of the discussions.
"Shane said they had the staff here and they were happy with the staff, so that is where it stopped."
Bennett has always had his favourite players at the Broncos and it was assumed he would target players to head south with him.
However Bennett pointed to the last time he left Brisbane, as evidence he would not poach players from the Broncos.
"If you look at the players that left the Broncos the last time, the one player that followed me was Darius Boyd because the club didn't want him," Bennett said.
"So I don't have a history of taking players away from the Broncos and that is not going to happen now.
"If somebody wants to come that's fine, but outside of that they have a good club there and good people around them, so if they are happy with their environment and their families are that's more important."
The Rabbitohs' hooker is yet to sign a new contract with the club and reports have linked Cook to the Knights and the Broncos in recent weeks.
However Bennett remains hopeful Cook will re-sign with the Rabbitohs.
"It is high on our priority list and the club has been working hard on that," Bennett said.
"We are optimistic that he will stay with us. I want him to stay, so that's up to him and his management now, but he is certainly a valued player here and they all have great raps on him and think he is a great bloke."
Reports suggested Bennett wanted Inglis to return to fullback, which would push incumbent Alex Johnston to the wing.
However Bennett stressed he would wait to talk to Inglis, before deciding his best position.
"He's not my first choice at fullback," Bennett said.
"I want to talk to GI about what he wants to do and where he wants to play and where he thinks the team will benefit most from his position.
"He's been one of the great players in our game when it is all added up in history and he will be right up there with the Immortals.
"I don't like telling those guys where should play, when they have given so much. They need to be happy where they are playing.
"When I put Darius (Boyd) in the centres this year he was happy to do that because that was what the club needed and I'm sure Greg will be in the same boat.
"But I need to talk to him first and make sure that centre is his favourite position or visa versa."
Johnston wants to play fullback and has been linked to the Sharks in recent weeks, but Bennett remains hopeful he will commit to the Rabbitohs.
"I'm hopeful he will stay," Bennett said.
"I did speak to players on the request of Shane Richardson because there were players under contract, that they wanted to keep here and I was going to be a long term coach here from 2020.
"I called Alex because he was being chased by clubs in the middle of his contract and South's weren't keen to lose him."
Jennings remains unsigned for 2019, but the club's leading try scorer from last season is training with the Rabbitohs, while he negotiates his next contract.
However Bennett would not guarantee Jennings would re-sign with the club.
"I'm not so sure about him because I am not totally up to date yet," Bennett said.