Bennett non-committal over future at Knights

KNIGHTS coach Wayne Bennett yesterday knocked back an opportunity to reaffirm his commitment to the club for the last two years of his four-year contract.
Nanjing Night Net

Bennett’s future remains the subject of speculation in the lead-up to Newcastle’s preliminary final against the Sydney Roosters at Allianz Stadium on Saturday night, despite assurances from Knights chief executive Matt Gidley that the coach would remain at the club until the end of 2015.

‘‘Look, I’ve got no control over that, so I don’t worry about it,’’ Bennett told the media after overseeing training yesterday, when asked about that speculation.

But when asked if he was staying in Newcastle for the next two years, as per the commitment he gave Knights owner Nathan Tinkler in April 2011, Bennett said: ‘‘Look, I can’t give you an ironclad guarantee about anything in this game, so right now, I’m the coach here, and when that changes, I’ll let you know.’’

Fairfax Media reported yesterday that Bennett was still being linked to a move to Townsville to take up a role with the Cowboys, or a return to Brisbane to rejoin the Broncos, but Gidley said the seven-time premiership-winning coach was staying put.

‘‘I’ve spoken to him about that – he’s not going anywhere,’’ Gidley said.

‘‘We’ve put a lot of work in to get some of these players here. We bought players who want to play under Wayne and play for Wayne and improve on his watch.

‘‘He’s not going to let these guys down. Wayne is extremely loyal.

‘‘I don’t laugh at [the speculation] or buy into it. Whenever there’s instability at the Broncos, Wayne’s name will be mentioned as a possible solution.

Wayne Bennett at Knights training yesterday. Picture: Darren Pateman

‘‘He built the place there and had wonderful success there. I understand that. But I think he’s excited about what we’re trying to do here.’’

The Cowboys have spoken to several coaching candidates in the past week, including Kevin Walters, Paul Green and Broncos assistant coach Kristian Woolf.

Broncos coach Anthony Griffin is contracted until the end of 2015 but is under pressure after his side failed to finish in the top eight.

Bennett told the media after training yesterday that the Knights would not be within one win of a grand final without Tinkler’s intervention and involvement.

‘‘I made a statement after the game [against the Storm last Saturday] – I was interviewed in Melbourne the other night – that without Nathan doing what he’d done, we wouldn’t be where we are today,’’ Bennett said.

‘‘We wouldn’t all be standing here talking about what our chances are – good, bad or indifferent – [against the Roosters] on the weekend.

‘‘His contribution has been outstanding and I’ll repeat, without it, we wouldn’t be here, we wouldn’t have the team we’ve got here, we wouldn’t have the staff we have here.

‘‘It just wouldn’t have happened.’’

AAP reports: Gold Coast coach John Cartwright says he’s committed to staying with the NRL club despite speculation linking him with Parramatta.

Ricky Stuart’s decision to walk out on the Eels after one year of this three-year deal has led to plenty of discussion as to who will take over at the struggling club.

Cartwright was linked to Parramatta this week, joining ex-North Queensland mentor Neil Henry, Tim Sheens, and England coach Steve McNamara as possible candidates for the Eels.

But the foundation coach of the Titans is contracted with the club until after the 2016 season and says it’s his intention to see out that deal.

‘‘I’ve made a commitment to the Titans until the end of 2016 and I stand by that commitment,’’ Cartwright said yesterday.

‘‘I believe we are building a playing squad that can win the competition in the near future and I’m determined to help the club achieve that goal over the next few years.’’

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