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NRL: The best NRL coaches of the modern era

Article originally published on (03/08/22)

There have been some outstanding NRL coaches throughout the history of the competition and we are blessed to have some of the very best still coaching today.

Ken Kearney is one of the coaches to go down in history when guiding the St. Georges Dragons to five championships on the bounce from 1957 to 1961. That run was the most successful in the history of the club.

Jack Rayner is another top coach from years gone by who won five titles, this time with South Sydney in 1950, 51, 53, 54 and 55.

Names such as Jack Gibson, Arthur Holloway and Norm Provan will also go down as greats.

But fans of the modern era are very lucky to have some of the best still coaching in the NRL, so let’s take a look at four in particular.

Wayne Bennett (The Dolphins)

Bennett is having a season off but will be back in the NRL next season when he takes charge of the NRL’s 17th club, the Dolphins, in their debut season.

Bennett was recently voted the greatest rugby league coach of all time. And with very good reason.

The ‘super coach’ has been involved in 10 grand finals, winning seven of them. His latest appearance was the 2021 grand final with South Sydney, who were beaten by the Penrith Panthers.

He also has six minor premierships to his name and has been named Dally M coach of the year on three occasions.

Bennett has coached a massive 886 NRL games, winning 554 of them. He will get the chance to build on that with the Dolphins next year.

It will be a huge job for Bennett, but if anyone can pull it off then the super-coach can. He has also coached Queensland in State of Origin with great success, Australia, England and Great Britain.

Craig Bellamy (Melbourne Storm)

Bellamy is a legend of the game and the Melbourne Storm who are still going stronger than ever and are pushing for another premiership in the 2022 NRL campaign. They are priced at 15/2 to win it.

Bellamy has been with the Melbourne Storm since 2003 and has missed finals just once in that time.
He has appeared in nine grand finals, winning five of them and has also won eight minor premierships. His reign has not been without controversy though as the Storm were stripped of their 2007 and 2009 premierships due to salary cap breaches.

Bellamy blamed the administration of the club and completely defended his players. They still had to shed $1million of playing talent in 2011 which resulted in 14 players leaving the club.

However Bellamy rebuilt the side and they went on to win the premiership in 2012.

Players such as Cooper Cronk, Billy Slater and Cameron Smith have all moved on at various times but Bellamy has always managed to rebuild and have the Storm competing at the very top.

He has been named Dally M coach of the year on six occasions. And the great news for Storm supporters is that he has already committed for the 2023 season.

Trent Robinson (Sydney Roosters)

Robinson has been in three grand finals with the Roosters, winning all of them. He is the only coach in the modern era to have done so and won his first premiership in 2013 after only taking charge of the Roosters at the start of the season. His first job in the NRL.

He also has three minor premiership to his name and has won the Dally M coach of the year on one occasion.

Robinson has won 65percent of the games he has coached and the Roosters look set to play finals once again this season. They are priced at 16/1 to win the grand final.

They made the eight in 2021 despite losing a host of star players through retirement and injury, which goes to show what a quality coach the Roosters have.

Robinson is tied to a long-term deal and will be targeting more premierships with the Bondi outfit.

Tim Sheens (Wests Tigers)

Sheens is currently footy boss of the Tigers, but will be back as head coach for two seasons from the start of 2023.

It is part of new-look coaching set-up that will also include Tigers legend Benji Marshall, who will take over as coach from the start of 2025.

He won the premiership with the Tigers back in 2005. It is one of four premierships he has won during his career that began in 1991.

Sheens won three grand finals with Canberra, two of them back-to-back in 1989 and 1990. The third came in 1994.

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