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Bennett's advice for struggling Knights

Mon, Jul 17, 2017 - 12:00PM
By ‌Alicia Newton‌‌, ‌NRL.com

Former Knights coach Wayne Bennett delivered his old club a message following the Broncos' 12-point win in Newcastle on Saturday night: don't get rid of current coach Nathan Brown.

 

‌It was the second time Bennett returned to Newcastle since his stint as coach in the Hunter ended in 2014 and many fans would argue the Knights are still trying to recover from his rollercoaster tenure three years later. 

Bennett has always praised the shape in which Brown left St George Illawarra in 2008 as a key aspect to the Dragons' premiership success in 2010.

With three wins in two seasons since taking over in 2016, Brown's future has been a talking point in recent weeks after Knights chairman Brian McGuigan indicated he was under pressure. 

"The first challenge for them is to stop losing their quality players. Losing [Dane] Gagai is not what you want to do," Bennett said. 

"And the second challenge is they need more time with Nathan [Brown]. He's done a lot of things right here and Newcastle is not going to solve their problems by bringing a new coach in.

"At least he's laid a format here where they are playing pretty well [even though] they're just not getting the wins."

Newcastle won just eight of 48 halves in 2016 but have improved on that statistic to 14 out of a possible 34 after 17 games so far this season.  

Their ultimate downfall has been letting slip a half-time lead. 

Newcastle have led at the break on nine occasions yet have gone on to lose eight – including the defeat to Brisbane on Saturday after going into the sheds with a six-point advantage. 

"When I was [at Newcastle] they weren't competitive for the first 20 minutes and we had to learn how to do that," Bennett said. 

"[The current team] have got to learn how to play a second half. As a coach you can get them started pretty well but after 15-20 minutes they're on their own and the bad habits will come back.

"But that's a learning thing and there's a lot of young players in the team with not a lot of first-grade experience.

"If Nathan stays there and they get a few more players in the club and don't lose any of their quality players then that's the best chance they've got of turning it around.

"There are new players coming and he has strengthened what he has got."

Coincidently, two of the new additions to the Hunter side's squad next season are expected to be from Bennett's line-up. 

Powerful centre Tautau Moga and prop-forward Herman Ese'ese will link with the Knights in 2018 with confirmation from both clubs expected as early as this week. 

"I don't know if I was talking out of school the other day but Tautau's told me he's leaving and Herman's told me he's leaving and they're going to the Knights," Bennett said.

"I don't really want to give those [players] away but the salary cap makes it impossible to keep everyone these days and that's the way it's designed to work."

 

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