Rabbitohs make telling Wayne Bennett move amid fresh Brad Arthur development

Souths are looking to secure the services of the master coach amid fears he may prefer Parramatta.

The Rabbitohs are reportedly set to offer Wayne Bennett a three-year deal from 2025 as concerns at the club grow over the master coach's interest in the Parramatta coaching role. The Sydney Morning Herald reports Souths are eager to bring Bennett back to the club and are wary of the Eels snagging his services, with coach Brad Arthur off contract at the end of the 2024 NRL season.

Reports emerged this week that Bennett has sounded out the Eels about the coaching position should Arthur be sacked or not be given a new contract. The Parramatta coach is under pressure to keep his spot after 11 years in charge.

In that time the coach has been unable to break Parramatta's premiership drought and they currently once again sit outside the top eight. In the coming weeks, things are only likely to get worse for Parramatta as they are without stars Clint Gutherson and Mitch Moses.

Pictured left Wayne Bennett and right Brad Arthur
The Rabbitohs are set to offer Wayne Bennett a three-year deal amid reports he has spoken to Parramatta about a potential position if Brad Arthur was to be sacked. Image: Getty

Bennett has made it clear for his next deal that he doesn't want to be restricted time-wise like he was in his most recent coaching roles with Souths and the Dolphins. He reportedly wants a minimum of three years to chase his eighth premiership as coach, with the Rabbitohs reportedly open to such a contract.

Meanwhile, the Eels reportedly held a board meeting on Wednesday night over the future of Arthur at the club amid interest from Bennett in the role. The club reportedly decided to not follow up on approaches from third parties acting on Bennett’s behalf, reluctant to make a rushed decision following Jason Demetriou’s sacking on Tuesday.

Eels powerbrokers conceded that injuries had played a large part in Parramatta's poor start to the season. They reportedly decided to give Arthur more time to prove that he is the right man to lead the Eels to an elusive premiership.

BRISBANE, AUSTRALIA - MARCH 07: Coach Wayne Bennett is seen during a Dolphins NRL training session at Kayo Stadium on March 07, 2024 in Brisbane, Australia. (Photo by Bradley Kanaris/Getty Images)
Wayne Bennett's contract with the Dolphins expires at the end of the 2024 season.

The decision to wait and see will likely result in the Eels missing out on Bennett, with Souths already marking him as the man they want to lead the club moving forward. Souths' board has reportedly given the green light for the move to reunite with Bennett, who coached the team from 2019 to 2021.

Souths, however, reportedly won't try to get Bennett this season. The Rabbitohs paid out Demetriou $375,000 as part of his severance package and don’t have money in their $5.5 million football department cap to lure Bennett mid-season from the Dolphins.

“We just won’t do it because we have too much respect for (chief executive) Terry Reader and the team at the Dolphins and what they’ve achieved the past few years – they’ve worked so hard to get to where they are now,” Souths CEO Blake Solly said. "We’re not that sort of club. We plan to sign a new coach, and we hope it is a matter of weeks rather than months … but it will be for next year We’re more than happy with Ben and the coaching group we have for the remainder of this year."

In a press conference on Wednesday, Solly said the club believes Bennett is the right man to get the best out of the "unique" playing group at Souths, namely young fullback Jye Gray. "Wayne had great success, he left the club on very good terms. We will speak to Wayne and if he’s available and interested certainly will progress that," Solly said.


"I think we want someone who fits this fine group and can get the best out of them. It’s a unique client group having worked with them for a long period of time.

"And we want I think a coach that can get them to form their best consistently and we want I think a coach that understands the values and heritage and history of this club. We’ve got great skills, great athleticism and some great personalities and every head coach has to get the best out of them whether it’s Ivan Cleary what he does at Penrith over a long period of time, Wayne, his track record with a number of clubs. The best coaches always get the best out of their playing group."