ALLORA CONNECTION: Rabbitohs coach Wayne Bennett (centre) speaks with players after a win.
ALLORA CONNECTION: Rabbitohs coach Wayne Bennett (centre) speaks with players after a win. DAN HIMBRECHTS

SUPERCOACH: Bennett always holds soft spot for Allora

SOUTH Sydney Rabbitohs coach Wayne Bennett learnt some of his knowledge about rugby league from being in the dressing room at Allora games in the late 1950s and early 1960s.

His father played for Allora and while many of the youngsters were collecting drink bottles for the refund, Bennett was in the sheds listening to every word of the coach.

While Bennett lived at Killarney as a baby and moved to Warwick as a teenager, most of his formative years were at Allora.

Bennett and retired Australian netball captain Laura Geitz were jointly named as the first immortals at 150-year celebrations of Allora.

"There were a lot of wonderful people around me at Allora," he said.

"I was humbled and proud to be nominated for the immortal award."

He spoke of his grandparents and the support of his Mum.

"I loved the Allora football team. Basil and Betty Phelan were wonderful to me at Berat, they were special people," he said.

He also remembers Irene and Pat Duggan from Hendon during that era.

"There were a lot of remarkable people at Allora who were a huge influence on making me the person I became," he said.

"Coaching is only part of my life."

His remembers being taught by the nuns at St Patrick's Primary School at Allora.

"I hated school and missed more days than I went," he said.

He remembers being coached by Tom McVeigh, later a Federal Minister, in a footy game between St Patrick's and the Allora State School at the Allora Showgrounds.

"I made two tackles and one run, we had to beat the boys from the state school. We won and I thought the game was super," he said.

He rated a decade at Allora as the most important of his life.

"Those memories are foremost in my mind," Bennett said.

Bennett has coached in the NRL since 1987 and won six premierships with the Broncos, 1992, 1993, 1997, 1998, 2000, 2006 and also won a premiership with St George in 2010.

He has a winning record of 62 per cent and is set to coach Rabbitohs in the 2019 finals.



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