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Look up the word coach in your trusty dictionary and it’s meaning could decipher many things.

The most basic definition will say a coach is a person who trains athletes for games or a contest.

If you take that a step further you could also say, a private tutor who prepares a student for an examination.

But as Wayne Bennett has proven, and for almost three decades, there is far more to coaching than simply just passing on information.

You see, the great coaches possess a unique ability to understand individuals, and as a result, get the best out of them.

Bennett is the master at this.

He has taken the philosophy of coaching to a completely new level.

The seven-time premiership-winning mentor makes the time to appreciate footballers, not just as athletes, but also as people.

He unlocks their most inner thoughts, dreams, aspirations and fears, then places trust in them to do a particular job on the footy field.

It’s a potent, watch-winning combination and one that has proven highly successful for Bennett throughout his career.

Look at the players he has transformed from fringe first-graders to Test and Origin stars. Names like Michael Weyman, Darius Boyd and Ben Hannant just to name a few.

The veteran coach also has a unique skill of bringing people together, from resurrecting Wendell Sailor's career at the Dragons through to doing likewise at the Knights with big Willie Mason.

"I think it's Wayne ability to get along with the different characters in the game," Mason explains. 

"He doesn't just rule everybody with the same yardstick. He knows there are different characters and people involved in the game and he treats them differently. 

"You can't coach everybody the same and I think that's a gift that he has got.

"Wayne has been able to evolve himself through the 80s, 90s, 2000s through to now and he is still going."

Talk to the players and they'll also tell you one of his other enduring qualities is how much he genuinely cares about his players.

Alex McKinnon's spinal injury this season is the perfect example of that.  

On top of doing everything humanly possible to support Alex and his family, the veteran coach also helped galvanise the rest of the Newcastle side.     

Club legend Danny Buderus believes everyone at the Knights will long remember Bennett’s actions during that extremely tough time.    

"They said Wayne was brought here to win us premierships, well maybe he was brought here to get us through this difficult situation," Buderus says.  

"He doesn't coach excuses and that's what the game is all about.

"I love his sayings and I use a lot of them all the time.

"Like the standard that you walk past, is the standard that you keep.

"I always use that one at home with the kids.

"Wayne makes you not only a better footballer, but also a better person."

It's why players like Darren Lockyer and countless others rate Bennett as the biggest influence on their careers.    

"Current and past players will always turn to Wayne for advice, which says he's more than a footy coach," Lockyer says.

To finish, one of the greatest Bennett anecdotes is one that hasn’t yet been told in the public forum.

Wayne worked with arch-rivals New Zealand as an assistant coach for their World Cup campaign back in 2008.

The Kiwis attended a dinner to celebrate 100 years of rugby league on the eve of the final against Australia.

As the team sat down for their meals, the New Zealanders were shocked to see how ‘Aussie-biased’ the video presentation was on the night.

In fact, the Kiwis failed to get one mention and it left the playing group clearly annoyed.

With dinner done and dusted, the side left for the team bus and sat in silence.

Enter Bennett.

The master mentor was last on the bus and broke the silence telling the Kiwis . . . 

“Did you see that? They didn’t mention you,” he said.

“Don’t they think you deserve to be here in the final?

“Now go out and prove them wrong.”

New Zealand ended up winning their maiden World Cup, with the super coach once again coming up with the decisive pre-match motivation.

The rest they say is history, but for Bennett his legacy will live on forever.

To hear from Bennett about reaching 700 games, CLICK HERE.