Bennett’s appointment confirms the worst kept secret in rugby league after the master coach did not seek to renew his three-year contract with the South Sydney Rabbitohs, despite narrowly being pipped in this year’s grand final. He will coach the Dolphins on a likely three-year deal from 2023.
The 71-year-old has hired veteran agent Sam Ayoub to secure the deal which is for two seasons with the potential for a third in 2025.
Bennett is regarded by many as the greatest coach in history having coached 554 wins from 886 games at a win rate of 62.5 per cent, including 10 grand finals and seven premierships.
The NRL Commission approved both the expansion of the competition and Redcliffe – to be known as The Dolphins – as the successful bid, in favour of other expansion hopefuls the Brisbane Firehawks and the Brisbane Jets.
The expanded 17-team competition will result in the NRL becoming a 26-round competition with every team continuing to play 24 games, with two byes, but with the total number of regular season games increasing from 192 to 204.
ARLC Chairman Peter V’landys said Wednesday’s announcement was a landmark moment in the game’s history and would continue the push to grow the game in Queensland.
“Today is an exciting moment in the history of our game … on behalf of the Commission I would like to congratulate The Dolphins on being granted the 17th licence,” V’landys said in a statement.
“I would also like to acknowledge and thank the other bid teams for the work they put into their submissions. All three bids were of the highest calibre and highlight the strength of rugby league in Queensland.”
V’landys said expanding the game in the Sunshine State was key to the long-term growth of the sport, with more fans, participants and commercial investment.
“Rugby League is part of Queensland’s DNA and to have four teams based in Queensland will further strengthen our game as the No.1 sport in the state,” he said.
“Expansion is also a really important part of our participation strategy.
“It will be a condition of the licence that the Dolphins spend $2 million every year on participation and growing the women’s game in Southeast Queensland.
“Our focus over the next year is revitalising our participation strategy and The Dolphins will be an important part of that in Queensland.”Jump to next article