Following an impressive Rabbitohs 38-6 win in which three try-scorers paid tribute to retired club legend Greg Inglis by imitating his famed 'goanna' celebration, coach Wayne Bennett said he enjoyed the mark of respect for a man he says is in a good place.
Bennett said Inglis was nowhere near that when Bennett first joined the club from Brisbane late last year. So he was relieved so see the former Kangaroos and Maroons star happy and relaxed.
"He's been a great player for this club; I've not seen a player much happier than he is in retirement," Bennett said.
"He's in a really good place and I'm really pleased for him. He wasn't in that good place when I first came to South Sydney because he realised his career was coming to an end.
"It's just nice to see him so happy and relaxed. He's in a good place."
In-form five-eighth Cody Walker must have felt pretty chuffed, when he bagged his second try of the night in just the 17th minute - a stunning piece of solo brilliance to regather his own grubber kick, before breaking into a 'goanna' celebration to the joy of his teammates.
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Halfback Adam Reynolds did the same after his 27th minute intercept try while club games record-holder John Sutton did the best his body would allow after 318 NRL games, when he planted the ball over the line in the 76th minute and attempted a goanna.
"I didn't [know it would happen] but I was pleased, I thought it was a great tribute to Greg, it's something the boys obviously thought about amongst themselves," Bennett added.
"They've got to score the tries first before they can have the celebration so that was the first part they got right but I thought it was nice, very respectful."
Almost all of the build-up to the match centred around the coaching duel with Bennett and Brisbane mentor Anthony Seibold up against the clubs they headed in 2018.
However despite being given several chances Bennett refused to be drawn on the matter other than to say he wasn't surprised departing halfback Kodi Nikorima had elected not to play for the club again before his mid-season move to the Warriors.
"I wasn't surprised after what happened. He was strong enough to stand up for himself," Bennett said.
Rabbitohs pay tribute to Inglis with goanna celebrations
Of the match itself, Bennett was happy with the scoreline and the defensive attitude but still saw areas for improvement after an early arm-wrestle.
"We all turned up, all the team at different stages made a real difference in the game, someone was always putting their hand up whether it was defensively... the game could have been a lot closer if we hadn't defended as well as we had," he said.
"I think tonight the scoreboard probably says we played pretty good but I think there's a lot more improvement in us yet. We put ourselves under some pressure tonight in certain parts of the games and I think the top teams will hurt us if we do that, so I want to eliminate that stuff."
Bennett on Inglis: He's in a really good place