Paying Bennett big bucks to coach Kangaroos is lunacy
VERY few rugby league buffs could argue that Wayne Bennett, the most respected coach in the game, would not bring experience and prestige to the vacant position of Kangaroos coach.
The Dally M coach of the year has an imposing record, and no doubt the Test players would be ecstatic to have him in charge.
But to pay anyone, even of the ilk of Bennett, $1 million a year - as has been suggested - to coach a team that plays only a handful of games each year is lunacy.
According to recent media reports, the ARL Commission wants the Broncos mentor to be the next Kangaroos coach. The team has lost its past three Tests to New Zealand and now sits second behind the Kiwis in the world pecking order.
But the Commission doesn't want Bennett just because he is a master coach - they also seek his reputation and his gravitas.
And the mail is they will pay $1 million to get him.
Obviously the commission members - or boss John Grant - must feel the two most recent coaches, Tim Sheens and Ricky Stuart, have somewhat sullied the position if prestige is to be the new yardstick.
And their records show that is a tad harsh. Sheens coached from 2009 to the Anzac Test this year for 26 wins, four losses and a draw and Stuart from 2006 to 2008 for 12 wins and two losses.
Yet Bennett's record, from his two stints at the helm, is 12 wins, three losses and one draw.
However he did have success as assistant coach of New Zealand in 2008, when the Kiwis beat the Kangaroos in the World Cup final.
Sheens, who held a full-time position as Kangaroos coach before he accepted his recent role with English Super League club Salford, was obviously paid good money.
But what he did between mid-season Tests and the end-of-season Four Nations tournament is anyone's guess.
We can assume it was not an arduous assignment - nothing compared to the job of the Wallabies coach or the coach of the Australian cricket team. And as Sheens has moved on, we can guess he wasn't paid huge bucks.
Understandably, the three successive Test losses to the Kiwis are of concern to the ARL, and the appointment of a quality coach to succeed Sheens is important.
But $1 million is way over the odds. And so is a full-time coach.
Surely Bennett, once his Broncos commitments are finished at season's end, can assume the role and still do an outstanding job. And maybe a large pile of that reported $1 million can be assigned to the areas of the game that are struggling, in particular the bush.
I'd be surprised if Bennett's motivation for wanting to coach the Kangaroos again would be money.