Wayne Bennett earned Greg Inglis’s loyalty with one difficult discussion. (Photo by Matt King/Getty Images)
Wayne Bennett earned Greg Inglis’s loyalty with one difficult discussion. (Photo by Matt King/Getty Images)

Inglis reveals ‘hard conversation’ with Bennett

EVERY morning it's the same greeting. 'Hey Wayne', Greg Inglis shouts. 'Hey Greg', his coach nods back - like a Clint Eastwood character tipping his Cowboy hat to another gunslinger.

Inglis grins as he begins talking about his relationship with Wayne Bennett.

"No [I've had nothing to do with Bennett in the past]. I just came across him at an All Stars match one year, shook his hand, and found out now that he's my coach that he doesn't like shaking your hand twice in one week. So, I try and get two or three handshakes in there," he laughs.

And while he's quick to focus on the light-hearted side of their new friendship, the pair has also shared one of the deeper conversations GI has been involved with during his long and decorated rugby league career.

The Rabbitohs champion has announced he'll retire at the end of the 2020 season, and this will be his last year representing Queensland and Australia.

But prior to that decision, he was asked by the super-coach if he even wanted to play on this season.

"We sat down and had a good hard conversation about whether I did want to retire now or whatnot because at that time my knee wasn't getting any better and he was asking why," Inglis said..

The Rabbitohs legend wants to make the most of his final years. (AAP Image/Dan Himbrechts)
The Rabbitohs legend wants to make the most of his final years. (AAP Image/Dan Himbrechts)

"And I said to Wayne, 'Look mate I really would love this opportunity to play for you'... Wayne just called the medical people in, went and got it sorted out, and that's when we found the cartilage was obviously a bit worn.

"But like I said it's just one of those things that we've got to manage for the next two years. I've got a time frame now but you never know when it's going to be your last game of footy or last time you train with the boys so you've just got to make the most of it."

He said Bennett's care for his players is the thing that's stood out to him since his arrival at Redfern after the infamous coach-swap with Anthony Seibold.

"He's a very honest, straight up and down, and fair going guy. You can see why over the years he's lasted so long, and why so many guys want to play for him," Inglis said.

"He just really cared about me as a person instead of me as a footballer, and that's what I love about him.

 

Bennett at training. AAP Image/Dean Lewins.
Bennett at training. AAP Image/Dean Lewins.

"When he asks you how you and the family are going, he's being really genuine. And he's 69 years old and this is his 41st pre-season, so he's lasted a long time and he knows how to treat people."

Inglis has spoken with Bennett and incumbent Souths fullback Alex Johnston about his desire to finish his career with the No.1 on his back, but he intends to revisit the subject once he gains the necessary match fitness playing in the centres.

"There's no secret I do want to play fullback. AJ knows that, Wayne knows that and the club knows that," he said.

"I just want to finish there to be honest. I can probably read the game a bit better from fullback and fullback's the spot I always wanted to play throughout my career.

"I think I get a better sense and can read the game better from there, and I want my hands on the ball more often."

News Corp Australia

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