Newcastle coach Bennett's future still unclear
Newcastle coach Wayne Bennett expects to make a decision on his future within weeks amid growing speculation that he is the No 1 target for the vacant St George Illawarra job.
Bennett and other members of the Knights' off-field staff are only contracted until the end of October under revised deals following the NRL's recent takeover of the club from former owner Nathan Tinkler.
Fairfax Media has been told that the contracts of players were transferred to the new entity, known as Knights Rugby League, but staff contracts were voided and new deals drawn up for the remainder of the season - meaning Bennett is a free agent after previously having been signed to the Tinkler-owned club for another year.
NRL chief executive Dave Smith has said he would like Bennett to remain in charge next season but other clubs are believed to be circling, with the seven-times premiership winning mentor linked with a return to either the Dragons or Brisbane, or a move to the Warriors.
While it is believed that Bennett does not want to leave while the Knights are in a transition phase, he appears frustrated by the uncertainty that still hangs over the future of staff and players in Newcastle and made reference at the post-match press conference after Monday night's win over North Queensland to the fact the club currently does not have a board to make decisions. He later said a meeting with NRL officials last week had been postponed to Thursday and said he hoped that would provide some clarity.
However, Fairfax Media was told on Tuesday that the meeting will not be attended by anyone from the NRL with the authority to discuss Bennett's future at the club.
''We were due to have a meeting last Thursday, that didn't eventuate so I understand that will be this Thursday so I will be a lot clearer when I come out of that meeting because there is no one in our organisation now that can make decisions about anything other than the running of the club on a day-to-day basis,'' Bennett told ABC Radio.
''We don't have a board, we don't have a chairman, we have a chief executive, of course, we have got a coach and we have got a whole lot of staff who are doing their jobs really well under difficult conditions but the end result is that until we have discussions with the NRL, who are now in control of the club, or there is a board appointed, nothing will be resolved.''
Asked if he expected to be closer to determining his future after the meeting, Bennett said: ''I think I certainly will, I want to. The club needs to know a lot more as well, so whether it all comes out in the one meeting I am not sure about that but I am sure over a period of weeks after that there will be some movement about what is happening with staff, what our positions are and what is going on.''
Bennett expected his future to be finalised within a month and possibly sooner. ''I would have to think you would have to know in a month,'' he said. ''It may be a week, it may be two weeks, I can't put a definitive time on it ... there are a whole lot of issues that have to be resolved here, and every day we let go is another day we lose a bit of ground.''
Sydney Morning Herald