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Bennett back in charge of QLD

Wayne Bennett is coach of Queensland again.

The Queensland Rugby League confirmed on Friday morning that Bennett will be the head coach of the Maroons for the 2020 State of Origin series.

Bennett takes the reins from Kevin Walters, who relinquished the role after being named head coach of the Brisbane Broncos this week.

It will be Bennett’s fourth stint as Origin coach, with the current South Sydney Rabbitohs mentor having previously been in charge from 1986 to 1988, 1998 and 2001 to 2003).

Now 70, Bennett has won five of seven Origin series and was at the helm when Queensland won its first series clean sweep in 1988.

Bennett said he felt privileged to be given the opportunity to step up for Queensland in such a big series.

“I love coaching Queensland and I’m extremely humbled to be invited to coach this team again, particularly in light of the challenging circumstances with Kevin moving on to coach the Broncos,” Bennett said.

“I’m very proud and pleased that I’m still able to do it. State of Origin means so much to the people of Queensland.

“It’s been a difficult year for many people and I just want to give something back if I can.”

Game I of this year’s series will be played on November 4 at Adelaide Oval. It will be Bennett’s 23rd Origin game in charge of the Maroons.

QRL managing director Robert Moore said experience would be invaluable.

“Our people involved in the process to appoint the new coach all viewed Wayne as the right person when we took into consideration the unique circumstances we are now faced with,” Moore said.

“There’s no doubt next month’s series will present a range of new challenges due to the scheduling change and biosecurity protocols.

“Wayne has the necessary experience and he knows what it takes to win big games at representative level, for both state and country.”

Bennett’s has a storied history with Queensland, returning as coach in 2001 to provide the spark for a stunning series win, just 12 months after the New South Wales Blues had swept Queensland 3-0.

In the final match of the 2001 series, Bennett famously enticed champion halfback Allan Langer back from England and it proved to be a master stroke as the inspired Maroons ran away with a 40-14 win to lift the Origin shield.

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