WHENEVER you hear the name Wayne Bennett, you automatically think 'supercoach'.
This was once again proven to be the case over the weekend at the annual Legends of League tournament.
The only difference was it wasn't seven-time NRL premiership winner Wayne Bennett on the sidelines.
Rather his namesake and Gerringong Lions stalwart, Wayne Bennett who was in charge of the Brisbane Broncos' assault on the 2019 tournament at Newcastle's McDonalds Jones Stadium.
"Originally they wanted the real Wayne Bennett to coach the Broncos side, as he'd obviously had a fair bit to do with most of them [the players] during their careers," Bennett said.
"But as he was already coaching the England national team, they needed to try and find a replacement.
"The first wanted to find someone who looked like him and play it up but eventually Scotty Stewart, who works with the Dragons, said there's a Wayne Bennett in Gerringong who's been involved in rugby league for some time.
"Following that, they got in contact with me - originally I thought it was a stitch-up.
"But as it gradually got closer, it got more real and before I knew it, I was up there coaching the team."
The event, which saw all proceeds go to the Mark Hughes Foundation, was special for Bennett in more ways than one.
It saw the man affectionately known a 'Pee Wee' team up with Gerringong product Ashton Sims once again - after the pair guided the Lions to an under 15.1s Illawarra/Group Seven title against the undefeated Wests side, featuring Brett Stewart, Beau Ryan and Kane Mackey, in 2000.
"The last time I coached Ashton was in that premiership side, so it was great to be reunited with a much bigger and outgoing version of himself," Bennett, who was the Lions junior president for 27 years, said.
"Originally, Ashton was named in the Barbarians side but once he found out I was coaching Brisbane, he swapped teams, so we could be reunited."
The Broncos won their first game 17-12 against the aforementioned Barbarians before dropping their next two matches, including their last one 23-14 to eventual champions Parramatta in the semi-final.
"I was very apprehensive and nervous at first, as all of those Queensland and Australian legends, who I've watched achieve great things on the field, didn't know who I was," Bennett, who is now a bus driver in Gerringong, said.
"To their credit though, they all went along with it and treated me as one of their own, which felt really good.
"They didn't let me stand there like a goose and actually let me have my say during games and valued my opinion - it was an experience like no other.
"It's a memory I'll always cherish that's for sure."
Joining Sims in the Bennett, who originated from Nowra before moving to Gerringong where he played reserve grade for the Lions, coached side was Nathan Friend, Chris Walker, Scott Prince, Casey McGuire, Ben Hannatt, Wendell Sailor, Tonie Carroll, Lote Tuqiri, Julian O'Neill, Greg Eastwood, Scott Minto, Andrew Symonds, David Stagg and PJ Marsh.
Parramatta won the 2019 tournament, defeating two-time reigning premiers Canterbury-Bankstown in the final.