Wayne Bennett will return as coach of South Sydney in 2025

South Sydney star Cody Walker says it’s “hard to explain” the impact Wayne Bennett can have on a playing group declaring he “can’t wait” to have the master mentor back at the club.

Magic Round meetings worked a charm for Rabbitohs officials who have officially signed super coach Bennett to return in 2025 on a deal worth in excess of $3.5 million.

Bennett, 74, was the only man Rabbitohs officials wanted after sacking Jason Demetriou and despite a late push from Parramatta, the veteran mentor has agreed to terms on a three-year deal to return to South Sydney.

Having made no secret of the fact he had “unfinished business” at Souths, where he coached from 2019-21, Bennett needed only the right deal to sign on, which he has now got.

The Rabbitohs have won just one game this season, but the players can’t wait to have the master coach back after he guided them to the 2021 decider.

“He just gets it. It’s hard to explain because you’ve got to be there in the moment to understand his impact on a group,” South Sydney five-eighth Cody Walker said.

“It’s a wonderful signing for the club, and we can’t wait to have him at the club.

“But we can’t focus on that and we respect that Wayne still has a year to coach at the Dolphins, and we’re not travelling too well at the moment so we’ve got to focus all our energy into something else.

“Don’t get me wrong, I think a lot of the players and a lot of the club is quite happy that Wayne and is signed on and we can’t wait for that to happen. But our focus now is trying to turn our season around.”

After guiding the Dolphins to a win in Brisbane last weekend, Bennett revealed how he would make the transition to Souths simple, having done it before, and said he wouldn’t take any players with him.

“I’ve moved from a few clubs in my life in the same situation so it is not new to me,” he said.

“I am experienced at it and I know how to handle it. The key thing is that everyone knows what is going on. You just get on with life. They have staff down there who will look after everything until I get there.

“Ben Hornby is doing a great job there now (as acting coach) and I will certainly want him on the coaching staff when I get there. It will be an easy transition.”

Bennett has been coaching in the NRL since taking on the Canberra Raiders job in 1987 and has been in charge at the Brisbane Broncos, St George Illawarra, Newcastle Knights and the fledgling Dolphins across arguably the greatest coaching career in NRL history.

Rabbitohs Chairman, Nicholas Pappas, confirmed the deal in a club statement and said “we look forward to welcoming Wayne back to the Club, and to finishing off what we got so close to achieving in 2021.”

Bennett took the Rabbitohs close to premiership glory in all three of his seasons in charge. SAfter two preliminary final losses in 2019 and 2020, the Bunnies went all the way to the NRL grand final in his final season in charge in 2021 but lost to Penrith.

He handed the reins to Demetriou who couldn’t match Bennett’s success after a preliminary final in his first season, missing the finals in 2023 and this season the Rabbitohs are languishing at the bottom of the NRL ladder, which prompted the coaching change.

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