The sharpest mastermind in rugby league history had teamed up with a Hollywood superstar doubling as the Rabbitohs’ owner: Russell Crowe.
Almost three years on from Bennett’s 2018 appointment, as the Rabbitohs close in on a grand final clash with the Panthers on Sunday, the veteran mentor has revealed what he loves most about South Sydney’s own movie star.
“I can’t give him enough raps,” Bennett told 2GB’s Ben Fordham Live.
“Football’s been my life since I was born and he’s as committed as anyone I’ve seen to a club. He’s done some wonderful things, he’s a great guy to work with, he’s always asking me what more can he do. ‘How can I help here?’
“But I think what I admire most about him is he’s so deep into the history of that club. He believes it, lives it. All the change rooms, all the corridors are full of South Sydney history. You can’t walk through that place without feeling a part of it. I can tell you.”
But the 71-year-old said he felt at home from the moment he arrived at the Rabbitohs.
It probably helped that Bennett had grown up in the country Queensland towns of Allora and Killarney, two working-class areas of a similar look and feel to Redfern.
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“I never felt, and the three years I’ve been there, I’ve just never felt that I wasn’t welcome or that I wasn’t at the right type of place,” Bennett said.
“And I’ve got to say, every day in that area you see every Australian in all different ways and shapes, with illnesses, whatever. Every day it confronts you.
“I always felt comfortable there and I had a great rapport with a lot of them. They just love to talk to you, like to say hello to you. It’s pretty simple stuff but it was important to them.”
While Sam Burgess, Greg Inglis and John Sutton won’t pull on a Rabbitohs jumper for Sunday’s decider, Bennett took the opportunity to pay tribute to the three legendary Rabbitohs, all of whom retired in 2019.
“Sam Burgess – he had a huge impact on this team. Greg Inglis, John Sutton in particular, as well. They were as good as any as I’ve ever been around with regards to their own self-discipline and the way they work with the playing group,” Bennett said.
“It’s a refreshing place to work because they enjoy coming to training, they enjoy each other’s training and none of it’s made up.
“It’s all real.”
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