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Bennett coy on his Knights future

Wayne Bennett has refused to give any guarantees he'll see out the remaining two years of his contract with Newcastle amid speculation North Queensland want him to be their new coach.
Bennett coy on his Knights future
by AAP

By Ian McCullough

NEWCASTLE, NSW, Sept 25 AAP - Wayne Bennett has refused to give any guarantees he'll see out the remaining two years of his contract with Newcastle amid speculation North Queensland want him to be their new coach.

The Cowboys are still searching for a replacement for Neil Henry, who departed the club after the finals defeat by Cronulla earlier his month and Bennett's son-in-law Ben Ikin is on the board.

Bennett's former club Brisbane have also been linked with the seven-time premiership-winning mentor with current coach Anthony Griffin under pressure following the worst season in the club's history.

Knights chief executive Matt Gidley earlier this week denied Bennett would be leaving the club.

But the 63-year-old, whose side take on the Sydney Roosters in Saturday's preliminary final, refused to completely hose down speculation linking him with a return to Queensland.

"I've got no control over that (speculation) so I don't worry about it," Bennett said after Knights training.

"I can't give an iron-clad guarantee to anything in this game. Right now, I am the coach here and, when that changes, I'll let you know."

Bennett was lured to the club by the wealth of owner Nathan Tinkler following a successful three-year stint at St George Illawarra on a four-year contract with a $1 million bonus if he delivers a premiership.

But the Singapore-based mining magnate, who was once the youngest billionaire in Australia, had his fortune drop to $18 million and was forced to relinquish control of Whitehaven Coal - his key financial asset - to creditors.

Those problems were compounded earlier this month when Aston Metals, a Mt Isa base metal company owned by the 37-year-old - was placed into the hands of receivers.

But Bennett reiterated his recent support for the Knights' embattled owner.

"I made a statement after the game in Melbourne that without Nathan, we wouldn't be here today," he said.

"That was regardless of whether we go good, bad or indifferent over the weekend.

"His contribution has been outstanding and, without it, we wouldn't have the team we've got here, the staff and the people we have. None of it would have happened."


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