2021 NRL Grand Final: Wayne Bennett cuts reporter at press conference, Panthers beat Rabbitohs

A disenchanted Wayne Bennett was dissatisfied with a question during his post-game press conference, cutting off a reporter before realizing he’d misheard.

Wayne Bennett wasn’t in the mood to talk about fairy tales or his future on Sunday night.

South Sydney coach cut a lost figure as he addressed the media his side’s painful loss of two points against Penrith in the grand final, digesting the reality that his final season as Bunnies leader didn’t end in the tone he wanted.

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A minute into his post-game press conference, a reporter tried to ask how he felt there was no “fairy tale ending” for outgoing halfback Adam Reynolds. Souths would not offer the 31-year-old the two-year contract extension he was looking for and he has been forced to leave the club he loves, heading North to play for the Broncos in 2022.

It was a heartbreaking way for Reynolds’ Redfern career to end a death sideline conversion that would have brought the scores to 14.

But Bennett interrupted the reporter before she could finish her question. He thought she was referring to his own “fairy-tale ending” – and he wouldn’t accept that his coaching career was over just because he led the Rabbitohs for the last time before his assistant Jason Demetriou takes over the reins next season.

“I wasn’t looking for a fairytale ending,” Bennett said. “I’m not done yet, I haven’t told anyone that I’ve stopped coaching.”

He apologized when the reporter clarified that she was talking about Reynolds, not the coach.

Bennett declined to speculate on what his future holds and whether it involves coaching the second Brisbane franchise to be introduced to an expanded competition.

“I haven’t made any choices yet,” he said. “Like I said I have some options on the table and I just don’t know what to do or what not to do now.

“Today is not a good day and tomorrow will not be a good day, the state of mind I will be in to make decisions.

“I am extremely grateful to Souths and they have done a lot for me.

“I won’t do anything without talking to Souths first and foremost and seeing how it goes.”

Bennett was clearly devastated by the loss, but praised his players for their efforts as they kept up the fight until the final whistle, despite Penrith dominating the field position for most of the game.

“I was not disappointed in our commitment and dedication,” he said. “We stayed in the game when they certainly had all the field positions and a lot of ball.

“We just couldn’t get a good field position. We attacked from the back of the field at one point and made a good distance, but it was too far to go.

“They kept showing up and I thought we were really good defensively because we had to be. I don’t know how many rep sets they got from us and all that stuff. We kept showing up, they got an interception attempt.

“At no stage tonight we won that game – we were always in it, but we never got out.

“I couldn’t ask for more from my boys physically.”

Originally published as Wayne Bennett interrupts journo in icy start to post-game press conference

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