Is Wayne Bennett a SuperCoach killer?
Is Wayne Bennett a SuperCoach killer?

Is Wayne Bennett an NRL SuperCoach killer?

Is Wayne Bennett really a SuperCoach killer?

Word on the street is what makes Wayne Bennett such a successful coach, and say what you like I still say winning a record seven premierships entitles one to that moniker, is his focus on team results over individual output.

Of course, SuperCoach is all about the individual, so the accepted wisdom goes that a team focus hurts an individual's SuperCoach scores.

Let's see whether we can confirm or bust this one.

THE KNIGHTS UNDER, AND AFTER, BENNETT

Firstly let's see if we can discern a change in a team's SuperCoach output when coached by Bennett as compared to another coach.

The most recent club point of difference comparison that we have for Bennett is to look at how players performed under him in 2014 as compared to 2015 when he left the Knights to return to the Broncos.

A comparison such as this has its flaws and I think it is important to acknowledge them ahead of the fact.

Between 2014 and 2015 the Knights not only lost Bennett and assistant coach Mick Crawley but they also lost a big name in Darius Boyd, and some key 2014 contributors like Adam Cuthbertson and Willie Mason.

 

The 2015 Knights gained the services of, among others, Tariq Sims.

Rosters change, coaching changes and players' roles change. Draws change - the Knights did not play the same teams in 2014 as they did in 2015.

All these changes make it difficult, if not impossible to draw a statistically significant line between the SuperCoach output of Newcastle players under Bennett in 2014 and without Bennett in 2015.

With those disclaimers out of the way, let's do exactly that and see if we can draw any inferences anyway.

Wayne Bennett during his time at the Knights. Picture: Tony Feder/Getty Images
Wayne Bennett during his time at the Knights. Picture: Tony Feder/Getty Images

Newcastle 2014 to 2015

2014: Team tries: 84, Goals: 63, Total points: 463, Total SC points: 18091

2015: Team tries: 79, Goals: 71, Total points: 458, Total SC points: 18012

Absent the allegedly killing hand of Bennett, the scoring output of the Knights in 2015 actually declined - both on the field and in SuperCoach land.

It would seem that for SuperCoach at least this is some evidence that the myth is busted.

However, in 'real life' it should be noted the Knights' points allowed jumped from 571 points in 2014 to 612 in 2015. Newcastle won 10 games in 2014 under Bennett and finished twelfth on the ladder, they won just eight games in 2015 and finished on the bottom of the ladder.

 

HOW ABOUT BENNETT AT THE BRONCOS?

As I mentioned above there are caveats galore when trying to compare the performance of the Knights under Bennett to the performance of the Knights without Bennett.

And with those caveats still fresh in your mind, I'll throw another coaching change statistic at you. The Broncos in 2014, the last year under Anthony Griffin's coaching, scored a total of 18551 points. The Broncos in 2015, the first year of Bennett's return to the club, scored 19401 points.

To recap, and for those that have just joined us, the Knights scored more under Bennett than without him and the Broncos scored more under Bennett than before him.

And, as the numbers below show, once Bennett gets his teeth into a club they perform pretty darn well.

In the past three years the worst the Broncos have finished as a team is eighth in the SuperCoach team ladder.

 

Wayne Bennett's Broncos finished sixth for total SuperCoach points in 2016.
Wayne Bennett's Broncos finished sixth for total SuperCoach points in 2016.

 

Wayne Bennett's Broncos finished third on the SuperCoach points ladder in 2017.
Wayne Bennett's Broncos finished third on the SuperCoach points ladder in 2017.

 

 

 

Wayne Bennett's Broncos finished eighth on the SuperCoach points ladder in 2018.
Wayne Bennett's Broncos finished eighth on the SuperCoach points ladder in 2018.

 

 

 

BUT WE DON'T PICK THE 'BRONCOS' IN OUR TEAM!

Hopefully we can all agree that Bennett-coached teams perform well at SuperCoach. But 'what about the individual', I hear you ask.

There's no way to sugar-coat this one, 2018 was not a banner year for Brisbane players, with not one Bronco inside the top 25 season averages.

The top three point scorers last season were Jamayne Isaako (1337 points at 56PPG), Anthony Milford (1313 points at 55PPG) and Matthew Lodge (1269 points at 53PPG). The trio are joined by Corey Oates and Jo Ofahengaue in the top-50 points scorers for the season. No Bronco made the top 50 on PPG averages.

Wayne Bennett (C) cloached halves Anthony Milford (L) and Ben Hunt (R) have recorded big SuperCoach seasons in the past. Picture: AAP Image/Dave Hunt
Wayne Bennett (C) cloached halves Anthony Milford (L) and Ben Hunt (R) have recorded big SuperCoach seasons in the past. Picture: AAP Image/Dave Hunt

Some excuses can be made as injuries struck down regular SC points producer Matt Gillett and by his own lofty standards Anthony Milford had a quiet year.

In 2017, both Milford and Gillett produced top-25 seasons in terms of both PPG and total points while James Roberts and Josh McGuire finished inside the top 50.

In 2016, Milford was inside the top 10 and Corey Parker - the original SuperCoach 'God' - finished his final season inside the top 25. Three others (Ben Hunt, Josh McGuire and James Roberts) finished inside the top 50.

 

MYTH STATUS: BUSTED

What all this tells me, is that Wayne Bennett-coached players can deliver quality SuperCoach scores. His halves, Milford and Hunt, can finish top three at position. His coaching style is flexible enough to allow for offloading creative deities like Parker to flourish, for workhorses like Gillett and McGuire to beast it up in base stats and for a mercurial centre like James Roberts to score well too.

One postscript I would like to add is to address the issue of rookie forwards. The accepted wisdom is that Bennett's go-slow approach to rookies hurts SuperCoaches. My thought here is that at Brisbane in particular, Bennett was long blessed with a veteran forward pack - that's one of the keys to his premiership-winning success. Any coach so blessed will of course be reluctant to play rookies in place of established representative stars. It's not a 'Bennett thing', it's a winning thing.

News Corp Australia


Isolated showers and gusty winds

premium_icon Isolated showers and gusty winds

Northerly winds to bring warmer temperatures across region without much chance of...

How a lack of vending machines inspired a donation

premium_icon How a lack of vending machines inspired a donation

IT started with a 24-hour lab with no vending machine — now the students at CQU...

RIGHT TO KNOW: When we deserved to know the truth

premium_icon RIGHT TO KNOW: When we deserved to know the truth

Campaigning for access to information in the public interest.