Bennett remains coy on Knights future

Wayne Bennett doesn’t see his Newcastle future any clearer despite the NRL finalising its takeover of the Knights.


Bennett has a year remaining on the million-dollar-a-season contract he agreed with former owner Nathan Tinkler, who ended his tumultuous four-year reign last month.

NRL chief Dave Smith announced on Saturday a deal had been reached with Tinkler’s Hunter Sports Group (HSG), with the arrangement designed to stabilise the club until a long-term owner can be found.

It ended a bitter dispute for control between Tinkler and the Knights Members Club, who will hold a 20 per cent minority interest under the new structure.

The decision ends any threat of an expensive legal battle between the Members Club and HSG over access to a $10.1 million cash guarantee lodged by Tinkler when he took control in 2010.

Despite this, Bennett said there’s still a long way to go before issues around the Knights are completely resolved and it’s too early for him to know where he will be next year.

When asked for his thoughts on the situation, the seven-time premiership coach said: “Scattered.”

“It’s a starting point. It’s not stable yet.

“The NRL have done a really good job to get to that position and Nathan has put us in a much better position than we were three years ago.

“We’ll know fully in the next three months when it’s really sorted out and it could be a new beginning, but it’s not there yet.”

Bennett has maintained for the last two months he’ll discuss his long-term future when there is a new ownership model in place but club sources maintain his contract is with the Knights and not HSG, as was widely believed.

However, he indicated nothing had changed as yet about his contract future despite the involvement of the NRL at the club.

“That is how it is going to work and I have no other way of trying to describe it,” he said.

“I still don’t know if they (the NRL) will still be able to resolve the issue or not because it will be a new model at the end of the day and they will be the people that I am answerable to not the NRL.

“At the moment it’s unclear.”

Saturday’s 29-12 defeat to the Sydney Roosters was the Knights’ sixth successive loss, but Bennett said he didn’t expect resolving the club’s ownership situation to have any huge effect on what happens on the field.

“I suppose it doesn’t do any harm,” he said.

“The effort is there, but we just find a way to beat ourselves. It’s got nothing to do with who owns the place.”