‘Wayne Bennett is the Broncos’ says John Barrett
"WAYNE is the Broncos" were the first words from former Australian Rugby League board member John Barrett when asked about the return of Wayne Bennett to coach the Brisbane Broncos in the 2015 season.
Barrett played for Collegians club from 1959 to 1966 at a time Bennett played his first footy with the men in blue and white in Warwick.
"I had a fair bit to do with Wayne when he was appointed Broncos coach and later when I was South-west chairman. Wayne initiated arrangements between the Broncos and Clydesdales and gave our teams' access to Broncos staff," Barrett said.
"He spoke to under-16 and U18 development squads and was just as inspirational to school students and adults as to the players."
Barrett spoke of Bennett taking Broncos teams out in the country to places like St George, Stanthorpe, Taroom and Roma.
"The players want to go to teams Wayne coaches," he said.
"The more players wanting to go to a club, the fiercest competition for spots.
"Wayne laid the foundations for the State of Origin success in recent years."
Barrett said he felt current coach Anthony Griffin, who will continue to the end of the season, had done a pretty good job.
"Anthony realises the Broncos have decided to sign Wayne, there is a strong possibility he will coach another NRL side in the future," he said.
Warwick Cowboys president Mary-anne Loudon was delighted to hear the news of Bennett's return to the Broncos next season.
"He has always had the Broncos at heart," Loudon said.
"The Broncos are really lucky to have him back; we also have Peter Nolan and Simon Scanlan from Warwick working at the Broncos so have a local connection there.
"I have always loved the Broncos.
"There is a lot of support for both the Broncos and St George Illawarra Dragons in Warwick so there was plenty of excitement in town when Wayne coached the Broncos and Dragons to premierships, he was instrumented in bringing the Dragons to town for a fund-raiser after the floods."
International winger and former Warwick junior Dale Shearer was coached by Bennett in the early years of the Brisbane Broncos and said the record of the coach from the Southern Downs spoke for itself.
"Experience counts for everything," Shearer said.
After a successful career at the Broncos, Shearer said "Wayne went to the Dragons and carved them up"
"The financial dramas didn't help at Newcastle, it could have played on the minds of the players," he said.
Shearer used the example of Willie Mason to point to what Bennett could do for players.
"He turned Willie's career around as he did with Dane Gagai," he said.
"Wayne is not only able to coach but mentor players. He can get inside the heads of players, put them in a good spot and make them feel confident."
State of Origin original Rohan Hancock from Killarney agreed with Shearer about the way Bennett resurrected the careers of Mason and Gaga.
"It is not just Wayne's football skills but his people skills," Hancock said.
"He got the best out of players like Willie Mason, Dane Gagai and Neville Costigan."
Hancock was at work yesterday and said he wasn't surprised when told the news of Bennett's appointment.
"Wayne has a lot of ties in Brisbane, his family is there," he said.