“Getting the players fit,” says the man with seven NRL titles to his name. “That’s about it”.
When he arrived in Tinkler Town early this year to take up his latest challenge with the Newcastle Knights he made sure he had his fitness general Jeremy Hickmans in tow.
“You have to know the players are the equal of every other team in the competition with their fitness, strength and skill levels,” says Bennett.
“That’s pretty important so that’s been our priority. My job is to create an environment where a player is happy, where he wants to be the best he can be and we’re there to help him.”
Excited Newcastle fans are hoping the super-coach has also brought his midas touch to the Hunter.
Bennett though is quick to rubbish any suggestion he’s promised wealthy owner and mining magnate Nathan Tinkler a premiership.
“There’s never any guarantee of winning a premiership,” he says. “I didn’t go down that path with the Dragons and I haven’t with Newcastle.”
Regardless, there are plenty of indications to suggest Bennett will make more history during his term with Newcastle as the first coach to win premierships at three different clubs.
Bringing his premiership lucky charm, fullback Darius Boyd (ex-Broncos and Dragons), with him is one.
Enticing one of the club’s favourite sons Danny Buderus back home after he “retired” from the NRL in 2008 to play in the UK is another, adding to a strong senior player group.
“I think Danny Buderus has been a wonderful acquisition for us. He’s like he’s playing in the NRL for the first time,” Bennett says. “I can’t believe how lucky we were to get him back.
“We all know about Darius (Boyd) and (Jarrod) Mullen and (Kurt) Gidley have been long-term players here. They’ve all got to come together as one now.”
Boyd’s decision to follow Bennett to the Knights and reject a slew of other clubs has allowed Bennett the luxury of moving Gidley to the club’s problem five-eighth role.
It’s a tactic he knows well, having done the same thing with Darren Lockyer midway through his illustrious career when the Broncos needed a spark.
The master coach will want to fully utilise the power, strength and brilliance of highlight-reel winger Akuila Uate.
Bennett has coached some of the game’s best wingers, Michael Hancock, Willie Carne, Wendell Sailor and Lote Tuqiri to name but a few, but try-scoring phenomenon Uate may yet prove to be the best of them all.
“He’s a real handful if we can get him one-on-one with somebody. He’s going to win eight out of 10 of those contests,” Bennett says.
“I’ve coached some wonderful players and been very fortunate but he’s up there with the real good ones. He’s only young in our game so who knows how good he will be.”