The best coach to have ever lived: Oliver Gildart gushes over legend

Josh McAllister
Oliver Gildart. PA

NRL centre Oliver Gildart has labelled Wayne Bennett as the best coach to have ever lived following his move to the Dolphins ahead of their inaugural season in the competition.

Bennett, 73, is currently the longest-serving NRL coach and takes charge of the newest franchise, becoming the league’s 17th club for 2023.

Former Wigan centre Gildart, 26, joined on a one-year deal, having been released by Wests Tigers at the end of the 2022 campaign. He finished the season on loan at Sydney Roosters, where he made two appearances.

The international player has now reunited with Bennett, who coached him with England during his five-year spell as boss. The pair also worked together during Great Britain’s tour Down Under in 2019, with Bennett leading the side.

Speaking to Dolphins’ official website, Gildart labelled Bennett as the “best coach to have ever lived” and is relishing the opportunity of being a part of history with the club.

“I think the main factor was Wayne,” Gildart said.

“He coached me back in 2017 and 2018 for England. I only got a short period of time with him, but I felt like he really developed my game. He’s probably the best coach to have ever lived.

“To get the chance to work with him again was something I really wanted to do.”

Gildart has endured a rocky start to his NRL career, having only made eight appearances for Wests Tigers in his debut year. He made the same amount of appearances in the New South Wales Cup for Western Suburbs Magpies and North Sydney Bears. 

The two-time Super League Grand Final winner has now set his sights on a starting position at Dolphins, fighting for a spot with team-mates Valynce Te Whare, Euan Aitken and Brenko Lee.

Oliver Gildart aiming to nail down starting spot

“My goals for 2023 is to hopefully nail down a spot here and do everything I can for the club,” Gildart continued.

“Obviously we’re a new team and it’s a clean slate for everybody. We want to go out there and make our statement and obviously we’re making history here. We want to have a good season and be proud of our efforts.

“It’s very tough competition here. We have some great players here. I’ve known Brenko and watched him play a number of years.

“We’ve also got Val coming through as well. He’s a bit younger but he’s a real powerhouse centre.

“I’m looking forward to working with both of them and the other players in the squad and getting my head down and working hard and to hopefully get a spot.

“Being a part of history is not something you can do very often. Playing in a new team in the NRL is something special and something that I’ll remember for a long time. That’s what really excites me; being a part of new history.”

Dolphins open their NRL 2023 campaign at home to Sydney Roosters on March 4.

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