After 853 games in charge in the NRL and two weeks in isolation, even Wayne Bennett couldn’t help but gush over South Sydney’s 56-16 flogging of Manly.
Bennett insists his time in isolation hasn’t left him sentimental.
But even he had to stop for a moment on Saturday night and appreciate South Sydney’s victory.
Bennett got the perfect return gift at ANZ Stadium after his biosecurity breach, with the Rabbitohs putting in their best showing of his tenure as coach.
With both side’s season hanging on the result, Souths unleashed the best half of football Bennett said he’s ever seen from a side he coached to lead 38-0 at the break.
“It’s a great game we’ve got when you see it played that way,” he said.
“The skill level and all the stuff we see out there.
“You just feel very lucky to be a part of it and I feel that tonight. I’m very lucky to be a part of something as great as rugby league.
“I’ve spent my life in it, it’s been the love of my life and I feel blessed to see a football team play like that.”
Asked whether the two weeks had made him appreciate the game more, Bennett maintained that wasn’t the case.
“I’ve always loved rugby league,” he said.
“I’ve spent my whole life in it, given so much to it. But to see it played that way tonight was pretty special.
“It’s why people love the game and why people want to watch us.”
It was hard not to enjoy the Rabbitohs’ attack on Saturday.
They rolled Manly through the middle and time and again caught them short on the edges.
Latrell Mitchell starred with two tries and three assists, while Alex Johnston scored two tries in four minutes before being hit high and taken off.
The Rabbitohs have now scored 28 or more points for each of the past four weeks.
Next week will present the big test though, with a Parramatta side on Thursday fresh from holding Melbourne scoreless.
“They’ve played some good football this year but we can’t go in with better form than after tonight’s effort,” Bennett said.
“(Our attack) is starting to come together. It takes time.
“I always wonder why we play 24 rounds a year; when the season starts, you kind of know who are going to be the top teams.
“You play it because you need to get the timing and practice.
“Come towards the end of the season now; it’s a good time to be coming together.”
Bennett said he had no concerns over Johnston’s fitness for Thursday, while Dane Gagai could still miss with a hamstring injury suffered in training on Friday.