Bennett returns as Maroons head coach

By Sports Desk October 01, 2020

Wayne Bennett has returned as Queensland head coach for the 2020 State of Origin series, replacing Kevin Walters.

Walters has given up the position to focus on his role as Brisbane Broncos boss following confirmation of his appointment on Wednesday.

Bennett, who is in charge of South Sydney Rabbitohs, has had three previous stints as Maroons coach – in 1986-88, 1998 and 2001-03.

"I love coaching Queensland and I'm extremely humbled to be invited to coach this team again, particularly in light of the challenging circumstances with Kevin moving on to coach the Broncos," the former Australia and England coach said.

"I'm very proud and pleased that I'm still able to do it. State of Origin means so much to the people of Queensland.

"It's been a difficult year for many people and I just want to give something back if I can."

The Maroons are coming off back-to-back series losses to New South Wales, while game one in 2020 is on November 4.

Queensland Rugby League (QRL) managing director Robert Moore said Bennett's experience would be crucial.

"Our people involved in the process to appoint the new coach all viewed Wayne as the right person when we took into consideration the unique circumstances we are now faced with," he said.

"There's no doubt next month's series will present a range of new challenges due to the scheduling change and biosecurity protocols.

"Wayne has the necessary experience and he knows what it takes to win big games at representative level, for both state and country."

Bennett is due to coach the Rabbitohs until the end of 2021, when assistant Jason Demetriou will take his place.

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    310 – He also holds the record for most wins in premiership matches. Of those victories, 242 were as skipper – the most as a captain.

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    1,295 – Smith stands alone for goals kicked in the NRL – 353 more than any other player in premiership history.

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    56 – Smith represented Australia more than fifty times. Only Darren Lockyer (59) managed more than Smith for the Kangaroos.

    33 – Lockyer (38) is the only player to have captained Australia on more occasions than Smith, who led the country to Rugby League World Cup glory in 2013 and 2017.

    2 – Smith was crowned the NRL's best and fairest player in 2006 and 2017. Only Thurston (four) and Andrew Johns (three) earned more honours.

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