Rugby League Rabbitohs Qualifying Final - Away vs Panthers: Saturday 11th September 7:50pm @Queensland Country Bank Stadium

Redfern Express

Well Done Member
Aug 4, 2018
I've always had faith in Paulo, he had a great game and is a keeper imo.
Yes . He looks like a centre to me . Although looking at our wing depth the poor bloke's gonna be stuck there for some time me thinks. I just wish he had more pace. An off-season with a sprint coach could be what he needs .
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Knowledgeable Member
Staff member
Feb 11, 2018
Taranaki, New Zealand
Arrow chats Panthers win, Wayne’s influence and maiden Prelim Final:

Phil Gould shoots down Ivan Cleary after Panthers coach accuses Wayne Bennett of 'manipulation':

Ivan Cleary should think twice before engaging in a war-of-words with Wayne Bennett:

Billy Slater impressed by South Sydney fullback Blake Taaffe's Finals debut:

Also, from the Daily Telegraph,

Blockbuster Finals rate through the roof

THE opening week of the finals has been a recordbreaking ratings bonanza for Fox League.

The finals were the four biggest rugby league games in subscription television history, and may have strengthened the claims for a 17th team as the ARL Commission grapples with its clubs and broadcasters over expansion.

Saturday night’s game between Penrith and South Sydney was the highest-rated rugby league game in subscription television history. The Sydney Roosters and Gold Coast Titans weren’t far behind. Nor were the other two games.

It is understood Channel 9 also enjoyed bumper ratings. The news is a huge boost to the NRL as it continues talks with commercial broadcasters over their deal for 2023 and beyond.

The NRL’s agreement with Channel 9 has just over one year to run and while there has been interest from rival networks, Nine’s determination to retain the rights would be strengthened given it also enjoyed strong ratings to open the finals.

Remarkably, the game between Souths and Penrith was among the top 10 shows in subscription television history, a sign that the code has put its troubles behind it in the run-in to the grand final.

“To have all four finals the most watched matches of all time is extraordinary,” Fox Sports executive director Steve Crawley said. “The live drama of Ivan Cleary and Wayne Bennett post-match on Saturday night was unmissable television and fresh insight from Luke Keary was terrific.”
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WLF "Member of the Year" 2020
May 20, 2013
Yes . He looks like a centre to me . Although looking at our wing depth the poor bloke's gonna be stuck there for some time me thinks. I just wish he had more pace. An off-season with a sprint coach could be what he needs .
I think Paulo has reasonable pace but he's not a rocket.


Knowledgeable Member
Staff member
Feb 11, 2018
Taranaki, New Zealand
Johnston feeling 2014 vibes with Rabbitohs belief sky-high:

Proof Wayne Bennett’s pre-match ploy helped unravel the Panthers

If you ever doubted the sway that Wayne Bennett exercises over NRL referees you just need to replay the audio from Saturday night, writes PAUL KENT.

September 14, 2021 - 12:36PM

Paul Kent has branded Penrith Panthers coach Ivan Cleary naive during his post match press conference, following his side's loss to the Rabbitohs.

The kick from Nathan Cleary’s foot was one of those high, familiar floaters and the impact it would have on the game would shake all of them.
Rabbitohs rookie Blake Taaffe moved under the ball and, as usually happens with the floater, the ball drifted on the breeze like it was half-filled with helium until, at the last moment, it moved late and Taaffe lurched forward and dropped it.

The impact on the game was not the kick itself but what happened immediately after Cleary struck the ball when it was still high in the air.

“Matt! Matt!” referee Gerard Sutton said. “Don’t change your line.”

Penrith backrower Matt Eisenhuth was on the run and looked at Sutton, somewhat confused.

“What? What?” he said.

Sutton replied: “Mate, take a position, don’t move.”

And with that, all the back and forth between Penrith coach Ivan Cleary and Souths coach Wayne Bennett was suddenly real. In a moment, all the talk of the previous 24 hours became valid.

Any suggestion that the pre-game talk was as innocent as one old coach simply schooling a not-so-old coach on the Art of Distraction in the lead-up to a big game was buried right there in Sutton’s comments to Eisenhuth.

How much of it was planned remains the hot topic today, and for several days to come.

Predictably, some have hinted at vast conspiracy theories, suggesting Cleary leaked the information to a media ally in the hope of protecting Nathan’s kicking game, and pressuring the referee to allow his blockers to remain in place, in what would be a double sting.

Such mind games are not uncommon among the coaching ranks but have rarely, if ever, been part of Cleary’s armoury.

The most likely solution is that Bennett’s complaint to the NRL after round 23, in which he was critical of Penrith using illegal blockers to protect Nathan Cleary’s kicking game, was leaked from within the NRL and Cleary was sought for comment and naively fell into it, although it was not portrayed that way.

The impact on his team was damaging.

The confusion in the Panthers players from that first kick stayed with them for the rest of the game.

Was the referee cracking down on them? How much protection could they continue giving Cleary if the referee was already warning them after the first proper kick in the game?

When it gets this late in the season, and the margins between teams is increasingly minimal, it sometimes does not take much to knock a team from its rhythm.

“Our boys were being spoken to about stuff on the run that we never get done for, so I’d suggest that type of thing has an influence,” Ivan Cleary said after the game.

The NRL’s head of football Graham Annesley, a former referee himself, was not sure the pre-match slanging match between Cleary and Bennett had any certain effect.

Annesley said referees did not go into a game with preconceived ideas on how they would adjudicate.

“Referees just see incidents and react to them,” he said Monday.

“The reactions are instinctive and they make a decision on it.

“Whether that is influencing them subliminally or not, we will never know.

“I don’t think it has any overt influence over how they referee the game. Whether there is something in the back of their mind, I don’t know.”

Maybe …

Sutton’s comments to Eisenhuth, when aligned with Cleary’s post-match comments, would suggest a subliminal influence, at least, was being exerted.

And the fact is, coaches complain to the NRL every week, some more regularly than others.

And they do it because they believe it works. Bennett and Cleary are at the lower end of complainants.

As the night wore on, Nathan Cleary, perhaps because he was no longer as well protected, perhaps not, reverted to more traditional end-over-end bombs which take less to set up, so can be fired quicker, but are not as nearly difficult to defuse.

It was evidence the Panthers had unravelled.

To show how riddled with conspiracy theories the NRL can be, there is also a belief around the game that it was Bennett who leaked his own complaint, to then force Cleary to react.

For those preaching at the House of Wayne, who believe in this theory, the logic follows an old Bennett rule that says if your players are at risk of being distracted, then make yourself the distraction.

So with the Rabbitohs entering the game without Latrell Mitchell, and supposedly unable to win without him, and having not beaten Penrith in their previous five games, and questions sure to come up about that, it goes that Bennett found a way to make himself the conversation instead of his team.

It seems a mighty stretch, but Bennett supporters remain firm believers.

What is a fact is that, with a subtle shift, the pre-game attention did quickly shift to Penrith’s kicking game and not the limitations of South Sydney.

And say what you will but, after Sutton’s early warning, it was the last ball Taaffe dropped.

You must have been disappointed Callmack when Luai (the mug lair)was not decapitated during the game.I know I was! 😇
In a night which had so many highlights, this is probably the only thing that disappointed me ahaha.

The Flash

Well Done Member
Mar 22, 2018
what I really like about Kent’s article is that Souths didn’t beat Penrith,Sutton( the best ref in the game) did.
So Souths didn’t play well or at all because Penrith were dudded By Sutton
Penalty count 7-5 Souths.
And yet two weeks before the penalty count was 11-2 Penrith but as reported in the Daily Chloroform and the Obscurer that penalty count had nil bearing on the outcome of the game?Penrith were great!
When scumbags like Murdoch.control the media what chance is there of objectivity?
Who do the journos have their money on?


Knowledgeable Member
Staff member
Feb 11, 2018
Taranaki, New Zealand
The Bennett Rules - Wayne clues we all missed in Souths’ unlikely Grand Final charge:

This truely does make for remarkable reading. Shows just how good our side has been since that day in Dubbo. What's even more incredible is that nearly everyone but Souths fans didn't notice!

Also, from the Sydney Morning Herald,

The day Bennett told me to go to the pub reveals the supercoach’s strongest attribute

Andrew Johns

League columnist

September 16, 2021 — 5.00am

I’ll never forget the first time Wayne Bennett coached me in the late 1990s when he became Australian coach.

The team was staying in Bondi and on the first day of the camp he called me into this room.

“Mate, I hear you like a beer,” Bennett said. “Yes, that’s correct,” I replied.

“As long as you turn up and train, and train well, and you don’t take the young blokes with you, you can have a beer. But, if it affects your performance, I’ll stop it.”

I cartwheeled out of his room all the way down the road to the Bondi Hotel.

Then I thought about it. How many coaches would say something like that to a player? How many restrictions would they put on you? How many would be fine with you going to the pub?

I didn’t take it for granted. I appreciated that he treated me like a man, just as he has with every player he’s coached in 45 years.

Bennett’s different to other coaches. He knows how to manage all the different personalities that make up a football team. He’s a genius, as we were reminded once again with his side’s shock win over Penrith in the first week of the finals.

The great ability of Bennett is that he can make his team believe when nobody else does. He doesn’t over coach. Instead, he delivers simple messages.

In horse racing, certain horses run for certain jockeys. In rugby league, certain players only play for the supercoach.

If I had to design the perfect coach, I’d combine the man management of Bennett with the tactical brains of Craig Bellamy. It is little wonder they had so much success in the late 1990s and early 2000s when Bellamy was learning his trade as Bennett’s assistant at the Broncos?

Bennett was at his best against Penrith.

Leading into the match, I gave Souths no chance in the world. All I was thinking about was the attack without the suspended Latrell Mitchell and the knockout punch he provides.

But Bennett flipped it. They went from a team focussed on attack to a team with fast-moving aggressive defence led by four players: Keaon Koloamatangi, Jaydn Su’A, Cameron Murray and Jai Arrow.

Souths simply frustrated Penrith out the game, getting off their line so quick, taking time off Nathan Cleary, shutting down their lethal left-side attack.

Their scramble was incredible. The Panthers had four genuine chances to score, but Souths scrambled that hard for each other.

Special mention to rookie fullback Blake Taaffe. I wondered how he could replace Mitchell, but Bennett clearly had no concerns.

When he dropped that first Cleary bomb, I thought, “Here we go”. But for him to come back and play the way he did showed some real resilience.

Late in the game, he made some huge plays, especially when he took that kick over the top of Stephen Crichton and the tackle on Viliame Kikau after he went through.

A week ago, I couldn’t see anything other than a Storm-Panthers grand final. I thought Souths would go out in straight sets.

Now they get the week off and, with Bennett pulling the levers, who knows how far they can go?
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Rabbits 21

WLF "Member of the Year" 2019/20
Staff member
Feb 6, 2018
Champion coach Wayne Bennett showed he’s still got it at 71 by tipping the finals series on its head with an upset win over Penrith in week one of September.

And South Sydney insiders reckon the super coach was doing his best Al Pacino impersonation out of the Oliver Stone classic Any Given Sunday just prior to kickoff.

Bennett reportedly told the Rabbitohs dressing room nobody believed in them without Latrell Mitchell - but he did.

The seven-time premiership winner then continued on about the older you get in life the more it hits home about living with no regrets.

The Bunnies had an opportunity to shock everyone by upstaging last year’s grand finalists was the narrative.

All Bennett asked was that the players had no regrets, they fight for one another, play for one another - and most importantly if they were beaten by a better rugby league side then that’s OK. So be it.

But don’t beat yourselves. Don’t walk off the field with the mentality “if only I’d done this” or “if only I’d done that”.

The no regrets theme was bang on and inspired the Bunnies to produce their best performance of the season.

It was Bennett at his absolute best and put South Sydney now only 80 minutes away from a grand final.

From Fox Sports
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