Exasperated NRL coach Wayne Bennett has delivered a stinging attack on “destabilising” outsiders, pleading “just let me do my job, will you”.
Bennett, still bitter about his sacking from Brisbane, said he was fed up with ongoing speculation he was leaving South Sydney and accused one reporter on Wednesday of being hard of hearing.
“How many times do I have to put it to bed? I don’t start it and then I’ve got to put it to bed.”
Bennett has been linked to the Warriors, Bulldogs and Dragons in recent times despite being contracted to South Sydney until the end 2021, at which point he will hand the reins to assistant coach Jason Demetriou.
“It does my head in, mate,” he said of the speculation surrounding his future.
“If I’m going to change clubs I’ll let you all know about it.
“That’s not happening.
“I’m here till 2021 and I want to be here till 2021.
“I enjoy this club, I work with a great group of people – the staff and the players – and I’m happy here so why am I going to want to go somewhere else right now?”
The most successful coach in rugby league history, Bennett was visibly irritated when asked if he or his management had contacted any rival clubs.
“I don’t have a manager. I don’t have management,” he said.
“I’m a grown man, I don’t need someone to hold my hand for me.”
When pressed again on his future an agitated Bennett hit back.
“Are you hard of hearing? I said the same things last week. I don’t want to keep repeating myself,” he said.
“You guys make up the stories, you make the headlines but I don’t have to play your game.
“I’m not going to continually go out to defend myself.
“I went through this rubbish at Brisbane for 12 months there and they kept telling me I had a job there and they sacked me.”
The seven-times premiership-winning coach conceded his bitter fallout with Broncos management was partly to blame for his outburst.
“It’s terribly destabilising,” Bennett said of all the speculation.
“It does nothing for anybody and it’s not generated by me because I’m not going anywhere – I’m staying here.
“I never intimated to anybody that I’m going anywhere.”
Asked if he hoped to remain a head coach beyond 2021, the 70-year-old said he had “lots of ambitions still”.
“And they’ll play out in time, but I don’t plan to tell you or anybody else what they are,” he said.
“It’s my life, it’s my decisions and when I’m ready to talk about it, I will.
“I’m not ready to talk about any of them.”
Bennett would be the first to continue coaching well into his 70s but claimed it was no big deal and said he’d prefer “those on the outside that don’t know what they’re talking about” stop second-guessing him.
“I’m not comparing myself to anybody else so don’t waste your time doing that for me,” Bennett said.
“You (the media) interfered when I was at the Broncos, hugely, and the same thing’s happened here.
“I stayed true at the Broncos and I got the sack there.
“I didn’t leave that club and I’m here doing the best I can at this club and you guys start stirring the pot again about where I could be and what I could be doing and everything else.
“Just let me do my job, will you.”