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When Wayne Bennett first arrived in Newcastle back in the spring of November 2011, the Knights were considered a basket case. 

Under resourced and under performing, the once mighty red and blue empire was in desperate need of rebuilding.

So with the help of mining magnate Nathan Tinkler, Bennett decided to jump on board and help the proud Hunter club rediscover its spark.       

In the ensuing three years, the seven-time premiership winning coach has experienced more ups and downs than any Hollywood thriller.

From historic wins through to devastating losses and a heap of testing times in between, the veteran mentor has had his mettle well and truly tested.

In fact, Bennett rates his time at the Knights the toughest assignment in his professional coaching career. He even compares the struggles in the Steel City to his initial years as a rookie mentor in the Brisbane-based competition.  

You see, prior to linking with Newcastle the man considered the games best coach was blessed with some of the most successful teams and club structures in the land. 

Starting at Canberra, before moving to Brisbane and then finally St George Illawarra, all three clubs were loaded with stars and a front office who were ready and had the resources to win.

Newcastle by comparison was and still is a developing club in every sense of the word.

Bennett pushed through though and despite some testing times, he managed to help the Club qualify for their first Preliminary Final in 12 long years last season. 

Fast forward just on 10 months and this lofty success hasn't been replicated in season 2014.

On the back of one of the Club's toughest ever seasons, Bennett's Knights have struggled for consistency with just four wins from the opening 17 rounds.  

While it would be easy to blame the team's indifferent form on the raft of off-field dramas this season, the long serving clipboard holder has preferred to shoulder the blame as the main man. 

In his own unique and highly humbling way, Bennett says he has done his best at the Knights and it's now time to move on and let someone else take over the reins. 

But don't for a minute think that the super coach is abandoning the ship when its captain is needed most.

On top of his influence and devoted support, he has also implemented many good things during his time at the Club, like a strong focus on the region's vast array of young talent, and it should be used as a launching pad for any success going forward.  

"Where the club was when I first got here to where it is now, there is no comparison," Bennett said after training on Thursday. 

"I’m pleased about that, but as a football team with actual performance on the field it hasn’t been what I wanted.

"So we are talking about it taking five years to rebuild the club and that's to get it line with management and on-field performances."

With the Club edging closer to finalising the ideal ownership structure moving forward, Bennett can see the good times returning to Newcastle.    

He also remains hopeful respected former ARL chief executive John Quayle is the man to lead the Club into the future.

"I really hope so and that he takes the job," he said.

"It would be the best thing that could happen to Newcastle."

So with Wayne leaving at season's end, what does that mean for the future of our Knights? 

Talk to the man himself and he'll tell you the supporters have every right to be optimistic about the future.     

"They should be very confident." he says.

"A lot of changes have happened since I’ve been here in the three years and it has all been good and it’s all going in the right direction.

"These young men will all benefit from that and it’s just a case of getting the next coach to carry on what we’ve started here.

"The new coach won’t be walking into a basket case that's for sure."