How NSW made Wayne Bennett a better coach

Wayne Bennett is regarded as one of the game's greatest ever coaches but it could have been an entirely different story if it wasn't for a clinic in Armidale.

Rugby League identity Paul Broughton, who founded the original clinic in Armidale which ran from 1983-2000, relayed the story of how it helped define Bennett as a coach.

This camp gave him the confidence to say, 'I can coach, I am a coach, I will coach

Paul Broughton

Back then, Bennett was coaching Souths Logan Magpies but he wasn't sure whether holding the clipboard was the right career for him.

By the time the Armidale camp was over and Bennett had finished rubbing shoulders with plenty of other coaches including Tommy Raudonikis, the seven-time premiership winning coach knew he could mix it with the best.

"I coached Wayne at Brisbane Brothers in 1974, he always wanted to be a coach but he was such a loner in what he did that he didn't have any outside influences around him," Broughton told NSWRL.com.au during the Blues return visit to Armidale last weekend.

"When he came down here he was with his peers, there was Tommy Raudonikis and all the current coaches we put on, so it changed the way he thought. He became more outgoing.

"They were in an environment with no pressure. They didn't have to win a game, all they had to do was talk to each other.

"It was probably the one time they learned to respect their position as head coaches and understand that they had a responsibility to the game and not just their team."

Peter Corcoran, another Rugby League icon who worked in conjunction with Broughton to make the Armidale clinic a reality, agreed it helped shape Bennett's career.

"He was a physical education teacher, he was working on the Queensland coaching panel, he later became a development officer, and he wasn't quite sure where he wanted to go," Corcoran said.

"This camp gave him the confidence to say, 'I can coach, I am a coach, I will coach'."

Bennett isn't the only NRL graduate from the Armidale clinic with True Blues Des Hasler and Geoff Toovey also passing through there before it ceased in 2000.