Bennett: the reason Rabbitohs’ season wasn’t a success
SOUTH Sydney coach Wayne Bennett says missing out on the grand final is the reason he won't consider this NRL season a success.
The Rabbitohs' finals run ended on Friday night, with the side edged 16-10 by Canberra in their pulsating NRL preliminary final at GIO Stadium.
It is the second successive season South Sydney has failed to reach the decider at the final hurdle, despite Bennett's controversial arrival from Brisbane over the summer.
Asked post-game at GIO Stadium whether he thought the season was a relative success, Bennett said: "Not really, no."
Pressed on why, Bennett said: "Well, they were here this time last year and they failed and didn't get it right. We got here tonight and had our chances.
"If we had executed and got beat, I'd be a lot happy with that. But at the end of the night, we had our chances and we didn't grab them."
The seven-time premiership-winning coach was particularly upset with how they handled the 10 minutes when the Raiders were reduced to 12 men.
He said they lost their way during that period before eventually conceding the game-sealing try under the posts to Canberra prop Josh Papalii.
"It was an opportunity to put them under a lot more pressure than we did, but we put a kick up that gave them seven tackles," Bennett said.
"They got an extra six in that, and then they scored."
The loss ended a tumultuous season that included the shock resignation of champion skipper Greg Inglis due to injury in April.
Star second-rower Sam Burgess also battled injury and suspension, the last of which ruled him out of their qualifying final against the Sydney Roosters.
Burgess appeared to have aggravated a shoulder issue in the second half, coming from the field after his 52nd-minute high tackle on Jarrod Croker.
The English international returned with 16 minutes left in the game, but lasted just eight minutes before again being substituted.
Bennett was unsure on Burgess' injury, but denied taking him off a second time due to a physical issue.
The defeat also signalled the end of the career of Rabbitohs stalwart John Sutton, who retired after 336 games in 16 seasons - all at Redfern.
"I've been privileged to have been able to coach him for 12 months," Bennett said.
"You don't know what players bring sometimes, you watch them play over a long period of their careers. But he's been a great clubman and guy around the team.
"And highly skilled - I think towards the end of his career, they dumbed it out of him, his skill level. He's got such a high skill level.
"He just doesn't always back himself with it, which I've had him all season to do. But he'll be missed. We'll have to find a replacement."