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  • SEVEN DAYS: Eye to eye with Wayne Bennett

    2018 - 07.03

    NCH SPORT. Newcastle Knights training at Balance Oval, Mayfield. Pic of James McManus after a head clash.25th MARCH 2015. Picture by SIMONE DE PEAK.Thursday, March 19
    Nanjing Night Net

    DURING his three years in Newcastle, there was a perception that master coach Wayne Bennett and Seven Days did not always see eye to eye, but I like to think that, deep down inside, there was a modicum of mutual respect.

    Sadly, it is only since the great man has returned to Brisbane that I realise we are indeed on the same page.

    After Newcastle enforcer Beau Scott is labelled Public Enemy No.1 in the Banana Republic for two tackles on Cows skipper Johnathan Thurston, I am prompted to comment on Twitter: “Queenslanders . . . such drama queens.”

    Imagine my surprise when, a couple of days later, Clint Eastwood’s long-lost twin brother expresses similar sentiments at his weekly press conference.

    “What happened this week is that all the drama queens got out of the cage again,” Bennett says.

    Hear hear, Wayne. I guess all this just proves that great minds think alike.

    Friday, March 20

    THE mystery of why Gold Coast have paid more than $1 million a year to sign Daly Cherry-Evans appears to have been solved.

    According to a rival publication, Cherry-Evans has been contacting rival players, including Knights centre Dane Gagai, urging them to join him on the glitter strip next year.

    So not only will DCE be the Titans’ likely captain and chief playmaker, it seems he will also be their recruitment officer, physio, media manager, gear steward, Powerade mixer, ground announcer and bus driver. There are also rumours that he will have his own corporate box and entertain clients at half-time during home games.

    Meanwhile, I am intrigued to read about an alleged drunken incident involving former Bronco Chris Johns.

    Johns, 51, appears in Brisbane Magistrates Court after he was arrested and charged for being a public nuisance outside the infamous Caxton Hotel.

    Police allege Johns was belligerent and aggressive towards security officers and police in the smoking area of the hotel during a night out.

    “F— you, I am Chris Johns, you can f— off,” he allegedly tells the men in blue.

    If only Johns’ first name was Andrew, the officers might have been slightly starstruck. Instead he’s just another ex-footballer creating headlines for the wrong reasons.

    Saturday, March 21

    ST GEORGE Illawarra fans are gutted when the Dragons win their first game of the season, 22-20 against the Faiders in Canberra.

    The result is a setback for the “Oust Doust” lynch mob, who will not be satisfied until long-serving Dragons chief executive Peter Doust and his allies have been burned at the stake.

    The last thing the death-riders need is for their team to start winning, however unlikely this may seem.

    Faiders coach Ricky Stuart says Canberra’s performance was “not first-grade standard”, after they surged to an 18-0 lead midway through the first half and then folded like a cheap suit.

    Asked where it all went wrong, Sticky replies: “I don’t need to be discussing that publicly, having you blokes run off and then start criticising certain areas of the game.

    “We’ll work on it ourselves in the inner sanctum.”

    So, in other words, he’ll be tearing shreds off his players behind closed doors but won’t let the media join in the fun. How selfish.

    Sunday, March 22

    I FIND myself astounded to read a Sun-Herald report referring to the cow paddock known as Brookvale Oval.

    Warringah mayor Michael Regan has called for the NRL to pay $1 million to provide Brooky with a synthetic surface that ensures the playing field is up to standard.

    Regan explains that as well as being Manly’s home ground, Brooky is “otherwise a public oval – the public is allowed to walk their dog on it or use it as they see fit every day from 6am to 8pm”.

    My initial reaction is that this bloke needs to stop drinking his home brew before breakfast. Since when are punters allowed access inside footy stadiums, other than on game day?

    But I later read a comment posted on Twitter by a northern beaches scribe who confirms the mayor’s claims.

    In fact, he says he can remember that back in his days as Manly coach, Des Hasler would walk around the field before training sessions scooping up dog poo with a spade.

    Perhaps this explains why Des is so weird.

    Picking up doggy do is a bit like changing nappies. Tolerable if it’s your own dog/kid, repulsive otherwise.

    Cleaning up after other people’s mutts day in, day out would be enough to drive anyone ga-ga.

    At CBus Super Stadium, I find myself suffering some sort of writer’s block as the Knights do battle with the Titans.

    Gold Coast five-eighth Aidan Sezer plays a starring role with two tries and three goals, but I keep experiencing these weird Freudian slips every time I type his name.

    At one point he is Aidan Sexer, then Aidan Sewer.

    Just as the Gold Coast Bulletin sub-editors are preparing a “Hail Sezer” headline, the Knights seize the day with a late Jeremy Smith try to post their third win in as many games.

    Monday, March 23

    AWAITING the flight home from Coolangatta, I notice newspaper reports about the A-League match between Brisbane and Wellington at Suncorp Stadium, which was abandoned in the 73rd minute because of “inclement weather”.

    Is this a gee-up?

    It rained pretty hard on the Gold Coast last night, too, but I didn’t see Titans or Knights players sooking about a few puddles and asking for the game to be called off.

    All of which adds weight to the theory that the A-League is a glorified pub comp played by blokes who are too soft to play real footy.

    Meanwhile, Gold Coast duo Greg Bird and Dave Taylor are found to have no case to answer after a late tackle that has left Knights playmaker Jarrod Mullen with a neck injury.

    In a confusing set of circumstances, Bird is responsible for the blindside cheap shot but Taylor is placed on report. In what is clearly a case of mistaken identity, it is debatable who should be most offended.

    Whatever the case, Bird and Taylor will hope it is not the only time this season that the charges don’t stick.

    Tuesday, March 24

    I CAST my eyes for the first time on the CCTV vision of Bulldogs centre Jacob Loko and Manly winger Jorge Taufua bringing back the biff outside a Sydney nightclub.

    Just as well they’re good mates, or they may have hurt each other.

    News soon emerges that both players have been stood down, pending an investigation by the NRL integrity unit.

    What is the game coming to? It’s a sad state of affairs when two blokes who have known each other since their schooldays can’t beat each other senseless and stagger around the streets with shirts ripped to pieces.

    Completing a trifecta of feelgood stories, the Dragons stand down Dane Nielsen “due to a breach of the club’s code of conduct”.

    No further details are provided but there is social-media speculation that Nielsen and a “high-profile Sharks player” may have had a Loko-Taufua style difference of opinion.

    Wednesday, March 25

    KNIGHTS coach Rick Stone says his team are “pretty banged up” after their win on the Gold Coast – even more so after wingers James McManus and Chanel Mata’utia collide heavily at training.

    Both leave the session with claret flowing freely from battered beaks.

    Hopefully it doesn’t affect McManus’ ability to sniff out a try. He hasn’t crossed the stripe in his past 10 games, so perhaps that means he’s due against the Panthers on Saturday.

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