Wayne Bennett has urged the NRL to ignore clubs he claims have “vested interests” and push ahead with expansion, adamant he could fix concerns over player depth as coach of a new club.
Peter V'landys this week revealed expansion was back on the table, with league bosses set to meet with the three Queensland bid teams in the next fortnight.
After the first round of meetings in June were put off due to COVID-19, the NRL will decide in the next two months whether to push ahead with a 17th team in 2023 or 2024.
That prompted an instant push back from current clubs, who have grown concerned about their own finances in the midst of the Sydney outbreak, closure of leagues clubs and no home games.
Bennett meanwhile has been one of the biggest proponents of expansion.
He took charge of an expansion club himself at Brisbane in 1988, and is the front-runner to coach the next team if they come in.
And the South Sydney mentor on Friday claimed the game would never have moved forward if it only listened to the views of existing clubs.
“If we listen to the other clubs, we would never had expansion,” Bennett said.
“We will certainly never had State of Origin, we probably wouldn't have Test football.
“There's always a vested interest party out there and that's the other clubs.
“Anyone that runs a successful business will tell you that you can either get bigger and stronger, or if you try to sit and at the same level then you won't improve.”
Bennett also refuted claims the talent was not there for a 17th team, during what has been one of the most lopsided seasons in memory.
The veteran coach has long claimed that depth has been a problem created by poor coaching and management, adamant players and their development are not the issues.
He also pointed to the exodus of players to the English Super League every season as proof there was enough depth, claiming he could find quick success at a new team.
“I'm honestly confident that if I had an opportunity to coach that team … I could put a pretty successful team together pretty quickly with a bit of help from other people,” Bennett said.
“Clubs are a major a part of the problem.
“The players are out there. The problem is a lot of the coaches aren't getting the best out of players they've got.
“I see two or three clubs do a great job every year with players other clubs let go … And I would see an expansion team doing that.”
Bennett claims there is enough talent for one new club, which would in turn create a bye in the competition.
He also believes the 2032 Olympics should also push the NRL towards expansion amid the expected population and industry booms with Brisbane Jets, Brisbane Firehawks and Redcliffe Dolphins the three options.Internet Explorer Channel Network