South Sydney have appointed England head coach Wayne Bennett as their head coach on a two-year deal from 2020.
Bennett, who turns 69 on 1 January, is currently preparing England for a three-match Test series with New Zealand which starts in Hull on Saturday, but point blank refused to discuss his own situation in his two press conferences so far.
Overnight, the Rabbitohs sprung a surprise by announcing the capture of Bennett, who will see out the remaining year of his contract with Brisbane in 2019 before making the move to Sydney.
Bennett, who is contracted for another 12 months with England, said: “I’m truly humbled by the opportunity to coach the South Sydney Rabbitohs.
“Souths is one of the iconic clubs in the game. I didn’t think I would get this opportunity, but that opportunity has now come for 2020 and 2021.
“I’m really grateful for the chance to be part of the club and I’m looking forward to being part of The Rabbitoh Way.”
The Rabbitohs turned to Bennett after Anthony Seibold declined to extend his deal beyond 2019 and he is now expected to take over at the Broncos from 2020.
Bennett is regarded as one of the greatest coaches of all time, having coached over 813 first grade games in the NRL and NSWRL competitions since 1987, guiding his teams to over 500 victories.
He has won seven NRL titles at Brisbane and St George Illawarra and last December guided England to their first World Cup final for 25 years.
Rabbitohs general manager of football, Shane Richardson, said: “Wayne is one of the best, if the not the best, rugby league coaches of all time and we are excited to see what he can bring to our club.
“His football record is second-to-none and his reputation as a leader is also of the highest order.
“Here he will have the opportunity to work with some of the best senior and up-and-coming talent in the game, which from our discussions over the past few weeks I know he is excited about.”
Richardson added: “Anthony (Seibold) has done a great job at our club over the past two years, however, his hesitance to extend his contract with us, an offer which has been on the table since June, led the club to explore other options.
“We’re looking forward to Wayne becoming a Rabbitoh in 12 months’ time and we wish him the best of luck with the England team in their current Test series with the Kiwis.”
The latest twist in the NRL coaching merry-go-round, which could see New Zealand head coach Michael Maguire join Wests Tigers – puts an end to speculation over the future of Leeds’ newly-appointed head coach Dave Furner.
Reports in Australia suggested Souths were set to turn to their former assistant as an immediate successor to Seibold, but Furner says he will arrive in England on November 5 to take up a three-year deal.
“I don’t want to give fuel to any speculation and I just want to say I am booked, I am coming to Leeds on November 5 and I can’t wait to get started,” said Furner, who was a member of Leeds’ Grand-Final winning team of 2004.
“I am looking forward to getting over to Leeds and meeting the current squad so I can start to build my relationship with those players.”
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