‘No one is more experienced than me’: Bennett’s 11th-hour pitch to Suaalii

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Wayne Bennett has made an 11th-hour pitch to star teen Joseph Suaalii, lauding his own ability to nurture young guns to NRL stardom.

Suaalii is expected to finally put an end to the lengthy tug of war for his signature when he turns 17 on Saturday.

The King’s School product is expected to sign a four-year deal with Souths, which will make him a millionaire before he’s even played a game of first grade.

As D-Day looms for the player compared to Israel Folau and Greg Inglis in recent weeks, Bennett explained why he’s the right man to ensure Suaalii blossoms beyond schoolboy rugby.

« One thing I know about all of it is that if he comes to this club, there is no one more experienced than I am at bringing young players through the NRL, » Bennett said.

« I’ve brought that many young players through from my 33 years of coaching. They need good people around them and they need good clubs to come to and I think South Sydney know that.

The ARL Commission will consider bending rules for Suaalii that state players must not make their NRL debut until they turn 18.

« Players mature a lot earlier these days, » Bennett said. « They physically don’t mature earlier, but they certainly do mentally because of all that is happening around them. At 17 or 18, there’s not much difference. He will turn 18 in that year as well. »

South Sydney’s senior management has long believed Suaalii could be the club’s long-term fullback, but with Latrell Mitchell now entrenched in the famous No.1 jersey, the star teen may be forced to bide his time on the wing.

Bennett has traditionally erred on the side of easing players with considerable talent at such a young age through the grades and he intends on treating Suaalii the same way.

« Talent is the beginning for all these young men and he has lots of talent, » Bennett said. « There is a lot of work in front of them all, but he came into the pre-season with us and he certainly looked like he was prepared to pay the price you have to pay to have all of that talent come to the forefront.

« A lot of young guys lose their way who do have talent because they won’t make the sacrifices that are necessary. But he’s certainly got the talent and I’m sure he will make the most of it. »

Mitchell will make his return from a two-game suspension on Thursday night and will proudly pull on Souths’ Indigenous jersey.

« It means so much to the players here so you have to buy into it and I’m happy to be a part of it, » Bennett said. « South Sydney has a rich history here with Indigenous people and I’m just privileged to be a part of this game. I know how much it means to the players and the club. »

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Source: https://www.smh.com.au/sport/nrl/no-one-is-more-experienced-than-me-bennett-s-11th-hour-pitch-to-suaalii-20200729-p55gok.html

National Rugby League, South Sydney Rabbitohs, Wayne Bennett, Phil Gould, Penrith Panthers, St. George Illawarra Dragons, Latrell Mitchell

World news – AU – ‘No one is more experienced than me’: Bennett’s 11th-hour pitch to Suaalii

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