AAP Rugby

Bennett open to coaching Origin and Souths

By AAP Newswire

Wayne Bennett is adamant he could juggle both the South Sydney and Queensland State of Origin roles if Kevin Walters has to walk away as Maroons coach.

Seven weeks out from the series opener in Adelaide on November 4, Walters' future is up in the air as he remains a favourite for the highly coveted Brisbane NRL gig.

There is a feeling that running an Origin campaign while trying to plan the Broncos' next chapter could be too much for a rookie NRL mentor.

Any decision would be made mutually between the Broncos and the Queensland Rugby League if he is appointed as Brisbane coach.

Bennett is the second-most capped State of Origin coach in Queensland's history, having won four series from seven attempts.

He would likely be the ideal fallback option for the Maroons, with QRL boss Bruce Hatcher indicating as much this week.

Bennett said he had not spoken to the QRL in detail about the situation, but had called Hatcher "about three weeks" ago to let him know of his position.

"I gave him (Bruce Hatcher) a quick phone call," Bennett said.

"As I said, and I will say it privately to him and publicly here, while Kevin has the job I am not trying to take it off him.

"But if they make another decision, the QRL, and I am on the shortlist, I am happy to be there."

Queensland have not had an NRL coach share state and club duties since Michael Hagan in 2005.

However this season's end-of-year series could present far different circumstances.

The NRL's pre-season return date is not yet set, but could coincide with the run in to Game III of the Origin series.

It would mean if Walters got the Broncos job and pre-season training began on November 16, he would not be present for Brisbane's first day back.

The Rabbitohs are guaranteed to return to training at least one week after the Broncos, given they will play finals football this year.

Bennett has also long been of the belief coaches should be able to juggle representative duties with club roles.

He was insistent in 2015 he could have shared the Brisbane and Kangaroos Test jobs, and later went on to coach England while still coach at Brisbane and Souths.

"In my opinion that's been one of the biggest mistakes they have made in rep football over a long period of time," Bennett said.

"You want the best players in the team then you want the best coaches available to coach them.

"That was a path they went down a long time ago, that's their decision and I don't agree with it."

Paul Green could shape as another option for Queensland if Walters lands the Broncos job ahead of him, having previously knocked the QRL back at the end of 2015 to stay focused on the Cowboys.