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Bennett hints at his plans for 2022 ahead of Rabbitohs exit after grand final

Wayne Bennett has said he may take on a smaller role in rugby league next year, amid speculation he will be appointed head coach of the NRL’s expansion franchise in 2023.

Bennett will finish up as South Sydney coach after Sunday’s grand final against Penrith at Lang Park.

He will move back to live in Brisbane but will not be a head coach in the NRL next season.

His name has been linked to the NRL’s 17th franchise, which is expected to be announced following the grand final.

Redcliffe Dolphins, Brisbane Firehawks and Brisbane Jets are the three bids in the race to become the new franchise.

Bennett said he was open to being involved in rugby league in some capacity next year.

“I could. I don’t know what that’ll be, but I wouldn’t rule it out of the picture,” he told ABC Sport.

“I just decided to come home to Brisbane. I don’t want to go back to Sydney or anywhere else.

“But I’m not leaving Brisbane.”

Bennett was sacked by the Broncos in late 2018.(

AAP: Dave Hunt

)

It is unlikely Bennett will return to the Broncos in any role after he left the club acrimoniously when he was sacked in 2018.

He took aim at the Broncos following South Sydney’s preliminary-final win over Manly last Friday night, saying he was “undermined” by the club when his move to the Rabbitohs was being negotiated.

His three-season tenure with the Rabbitohs culminates with their first grand-final appearance since 2014.

Should the Rabbitohs beat the Panthers, it will be Bennett’s eighth NSWRL/NRL premiership as a coach.

He led the Broncos to six titles and was in charge of St George Illawarra when it snapped a 31-year premiership drought in 2010.

Rabbitohs peaking

The Rabbitohs compiled a 20-4 win-loss record during this year’s minor premiership, however their record was blighted by a 50-0 thrashing at the hands of the Melbourne Storm and a 56-12 defeat against the Panthers.

They scored an upset 16-10 win over the Panthers in the opening week of the finals and convincingly beat the Sea Eagles 36-16 to qualify for the premiership decider.

Three South Sydney Rabbitohs NRL players celebrate a try.
The Rabbitohs appear to have found their best form in the finals.(

Getty Images: Bradley Kanaris

)

Bennett said he believed the Rabbitohs were peaking at the right time.

“I had a plan that we would be in a better place by the end of the season,” he said.

“We only got beaten four times in the 24 games season. We got beaten by Storm twice and Penrith twice. No-one else beat us in the comp.

“We wanted to be playing well and playing the football that would beat those teams in late August and early September.”

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