Wayne Bennett

Widely regarded as one of the most astute coaches in either rugby code, when Wayne Bennett speaks people listen.

One of his Broncos players once joked that if Bennett wasn’t a coach “he’d be a telegraph pole”, while he’s also been described as “Clint Eastwood without the gun”.

But behind that quiet, stern exterior is a man who thinks deeply about life and sport. His philosophy is outlined in his best-selling book, “Don’t Die with the Music In You”, a prescription for living life and playing sport to the full.

The same common sense, consideration and thought has gone into his contribution to DigiLeague, which draws on his years of experience as a player and coach for Queensland and Australia.

As a player Wayne represented Queensland, on the wing and at fullback, in seven matches against NSW from 1971 to ‘73. He played in two provincial tour matches for Australia on the 1971 tour of New Zealand.

He entered coaching at Ipswich near Brisbane in 1976, then coached Brisbane clubs Souths and Brothers, taking Souths to a premiership in 1985.

He was the Queensland Director of Coaching before accepting a full time coaching position with the Canberra Raiders in 1987, leading them to their first Grand Final appearance the same year.

The following year he joined the newly created Brisbane Broncos as their inaugural coach and has been in that position ever since, guiding them to five premierships (1992, 1993, 1997, 1998 and 2000), two World Club Challenge titles, 1992 and 1997, and three pre-season titles, The Panasonic Cup ‘89, Lotto Challenge ’91 and Tooheys Challenge ‘95.

Wayne Bennett was the coach of the successful Queensland State of Origin sides in 1987 and ‘88 and was appointed the inaugural Queensland Super League coach for the 1997 Tri-Series against NSW and New Zealand. The Broncos’ success in 1997 in winning both the Telstra Cup and the Visa World Club Championship led to him being named the Super League ‘Coach of the Year’.

He made a successful return to State of Origin coaching in 1998, guiding the Queensland team to an historic 2-1 victory over NSW, then secured the title again in 2001 and 2002.

He was paid the ultimate compliment in 1998 when chosen as the Australian coach for the final two tests of the series against New Zealand after Bob Fulton was forced to stand down for personal reasons. Down one-nil in the series Australia clinched the final two tests to secure the Trans-Tasman trophy, thus creating history by becoming the first coach to steer his club, his state and his country to victory in their respective series.

He was named the Queensland coach of the year in 1998 by the Queensland Sport Federation, and Australian domestic teams coach of the year by the Australian Coaching Council.

In 2004 he was appointed Australian coach for a second time, as one of the few to represent his country both as a player and a coach.