Wayne Bennett.
Wayne Bennett.

Langer best, says Bennett

INCOMING Newcastle coach Wayne Bennett knows the weight of expectation will be on his shoulders when he coaches the Knights in the National Rugby League.

Bennett takes the reins on Monday morning with the club's first pre-season training session under his control.

He comes to the club with 21 years experience at the Brisbane Broncos and three years at St George Illawarra Dragons with a total of seven premierships

"The weight of expectation can kill you sometimes," Bennett said.

"I know what I have to do and all I can say is I'll do my best."

Bennett was in Byron Bay yesterday as part of the Byron at Byron Resort Movember Celebrity Sports Lunch.

He named Brisbane Broncos halfback Allan Langer as the stand-out player he had seen during his time as a top-level coach.

"I've coached for a long time and I know how good that bloke was," Bennett said.

"He had charisma and would always deliver on the football field.

"Alf played with and had a huge impact on guys like Darren Lockyer, Brad Thorn and Shane Webcke.

"Lockyer played 300 games with me as coach and Langer played 250, so it was a long time together."

Bennett believes troubled centre Timana Tahu will rise to the occasion when he returns home to the Knights after a volatile racial vilif-ication saga involving a Northern Rivers player and injury ended his time at the Parramatta Eels and Penrith Panthers in 2011.

"I'm sure he'll be back with a point to prove," Bennett said.

"Timana has a lot of quality and I like what he brings."

Another speaker at the lunch yesterday was six-time Australian surf lifesaving ironman champion and four-time world champion Trevor Hendy.

He was joined by Karla Gilbert, who dominated women's surf lifesaving competition for 10 years with 15 Australian championship wins and two back-to-back world ironwoman titles.

"We run a company and do a lot of mentoring and public speaking," Hendy said.

The 43-year-old still has fond memories of his guest appearance role in the American TV series Baywatch.

"At the time we went on the show I think they were getting something like one billion people watching a week and it was the biggest television show in the world," Hendy said.

"I did a few scenes with David Hasselhoff and it was an honour that they asked me to play myself.

"Even Kelly Slater portrayed a different character."

Other speakers at the lunch yesterday included former NRL and Queensland Origin player Ben Ikin, Hawaiian Ironman Triathlon runner-up Peter Jacobs and surfer Wayne Bartholomew.

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