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Wayne Bennett directs traffic at Rabbitohs training.

The occasion was so grand that rows of chairs had been set up to cater for the media throng gathered to hear Wayne Bennett speak for the first time in South Sydney Rabbitohs colours.

Television stations had satellite vans parked inside the Redfern Oval precinct on Tuesday so they could to a "live cross" – Bennett is big news.

One local on a pushbike yelled out "Media scum!" as he pedalled past with his "white rabbit" baseball cap under his helmet.

He's in good company. Bennett doesn't particularly like the media either. But he likes to brandish his special type of sarcasm and get a laugh out of journalists all the same.

"I can't wait. It will be the highlight of my time here," Bennett said on dealing with the Sydney media once again – a joy he's not had since leaving the Dragons for the Newcastle Knights at the end of the 2011 season.

"I'll go to bed of a night waiting until I see you the next morning.

Bennett welcomed by Sam Burgess

"I know who is pleased I'm here and that's [NRL CEO] Todd Greenberg. I know that ... it takes some pressure off him."

It has definitely kept rugby league at the forefront of sporting websites, newspapers and television reports in football's off-season when cricket, yachting, tennis and other summer codes usually come to the surface.

But what it has done is bring two icons of the game together – a seven-time premiership-winning coach in Bennett, and the club with the most NRL premierships (21) in Souths.

"It's been a long time coming," Bennett said, referring to moves after John Lang finished his tenure in 2011 to lure Bennett or Craig Bellamy to the club by its high-profile and determined patriarch Russell Crowe.

Souths ended up signing Michael Maguire who helped bring them their 21st title in 2014.

"I was nearly here seven years ago but it didn't happen," Bennett added. "But I'm pleased to be here today, working with a great group of guys who were highly organised.

"It's going to make it very easy for me to make the transition with very little notice. It's a pleasure to be at such a great club with such a great history.

"I've got a 300-game player on my right [John Sutton] and one of the great players of our game on my left [Sam Burgess]. It's just a pleasure."

The feeling was mutual. As Bennett emerged from the Rabbitohs' dressing room doors to walk the 30 metres to the media set-up, a large crowd of onlookers clapped and cheered him – "Good on you Wayne."

After the 15-minute press conference ended, Bennett shook many hands and received multiple compliments and pats on the back.

Bennett's message for Rabbitohs supporters

"Glad you're here. We'll win with you here," one vocal middle-aged woman said.

That might hurt outgoing coach Anthony Seibold's sensitivities since he raised the Rabbitohs from 12th position in 2017 to third and a preliminary final in 2018. He also won the Dally M coach of the year in his rookie season.

But since Seibold has seemingly abandoned the South Sydney faithful, they've forgotten about him.

Bennett hasn't forgotten about his treatment by the Broncos board and club executive, namely chairman Karl Morris and CEO Paul White, who announced his sacking two days ago.

"Our job [as a coach] is difficult in many ways but you certainly need the support of the board and those that are in those positions," he said on Tuesday.

I did feel welcome. Sam gave me a cuddle

Wayne Bennett

"And I've got that here with the CEO and everyone else so I can enjoy what I'm doing."

As for Crowe, that pleasure is also coming.

"I don't know Russell at all. I've met him once or twice. Everyone tells me he's a good bloke – Sam [Burgess] thinks he's a great bloke so that's all I need to know.

"I've had hardly any dealings with him. The longest I've spoken with him was in Denver, when I was there for the Test match with England. He turned up to watch the game.

"I got a nice message from him.. I got a lot of nice messages actually. It's been very pleasant."

As for the players – many of whom he met for the first time today even after 30 years in the first grade business when he started at the Raiders in 1987 – Bennett felt their warmth as well.

"I did feel welcome. Sam gave me a cuddle. I was sorry Tom and George [Burgess] weren't here as they would have cuddled me too. We've worked closely in the English team together and have a great rapport.

"Sam is a great leader and will be a great help to me here."

Rabbitohs coach Wayne Bennett.
Rabbitohs coach Wayne Bennett. ©

Burgess spoke for a second day in a row in glowing terms of Bennett.

"It's great. I've worked with him in England so I know what he's about. He will fit very well into the club. He's a good man and will be good to have around," the dual international said.

Sutton was captain when Souths held the Telstra Premiership trophy aloft in 2014.

"I just met him this morning. But obviously he's been around for a long time so I'm just looking forward to getting around him and learning," he said.

As for the match-up between the Rabbitohs and Broncos in Round 8 of the 2019 Telstra Premiership season, Bennett again was able to sink a friendly boot into the media.

"You guys will make a big deal of it but it won't be a big deal to me. My focus will be on us playing well on the day and not making it personal. It's not personal for the players. I'm not going to drag my baggage into their lives – it won't happen on my watch."

The elder statesman of coaching must have felt a great deal of sadness to leave behind 25 years at the Red Hill headquarters of the Broncos.

"Do I look heartbroken?" he responded on Tuesday when asked if he was disappointed at not saying goodbye properly.

"But that's what happens when you're sacked."

Acknowledgement of Country

South Sydney Rabbitohs respect and honour the Traditional Custodians of the land and pay our respects to their Elders past, present and future. We acknowledge the stories, traditions and living cultures of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples on the lands we meet, gather and play on.

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