Bennett turns up heat on Bunnies in Reynolds spat
Wayne Bennett has appealed for Souths hierarchy to keep Adam Reynolds at the club for life as he lamented the NRL salary cap laws that could drive the local junior out of Redfern.
In his only interview on the contract saga, Bennett came out swinging in support of his premiership-winning playmaker before Thursday night's season-opener against the Storm at AAMI Park.
News Corp can reveal Bennett has privately urged Rabbitohs bosses to soften their stance on a hardline 12-month deal to the off-contract Reynolds, who is seeking the greater security of a two-year extension.
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There are fears Reynolds is an injury hazard as he approaches his 31st birthday in July, but Bennett blasted critics of the halfback's health, with statistics showing he has averaged 22 games per season since his debut in 2012.
The South Sydney product has amassed 206 NRL games, helping break the club's 43-year premiership drought in 2014, and super coach Bennett is flexing his muscle to ensure Reynolds stays at Redfern.
"I don't want to see Adam leave," Bennett said. "I can't see Adam Reynolds at any other club and I've made that clear - that's why I'm confident he will stay.
"I still believe they will work it out.
"People ask why the hell is this happening? The reality is the salary cap is designed for successful clubs to lose players, the more successful you get, the more players you will have to release.
"I have a huge opinion of Adam, he is a pleasure to coach and he is important for South Sydney."
Entering his 10th year at Souths, Reynolds has never played fewer than 16 games in a single season.
The former NSW Origin halfback has played 20 or more games in seven of his nine campaigns, evidence for Bennett that Reynolds would not suffer the same fate as Greg Inglis and Sam Burgess, who retired prematurely midway through lucrative deals.
"The talk about Adam's injuries doesn't make sense," Bennett said.
"He has averaged more than 20 games per season, so he's out there more than he's not.
"Adam is getting to that older category and Souths are worried about what has happened in the past with guys like 'GI' and Sam who had to retire with injury and we lost a fair bit of money because they were on long-term contracts."
Bennett has not been heavily involved in contract talks because his deal as head coach expires at season's end. But his successor, current assistant Jason Demetriou, is a fan of Reynolds and is determined for him to run Souths' offence next season.
Reynolds could attract in excess of $700,000 a season on the open market, but Bennett is confident the goalkicking schemer would be prepared to sacrifice dollars to be a one-club legend.
"The issue is the terms and length of the deal," Bennett said. "Adam has a position and the club has a position and someone will have to make a sacrifice somewhere.
"This is a situation the club finds itself in. It's a salary cap situation as well and that's the difficult part of it all.
"Souths are bringing through some kids who will be the superstars of the game, guys like Cam Murray, Campbell Graham and Latrell Mitchell and that puts pressure on our ability to keep Adam Reynolds.
"There's a squeeze on us at the top.
"Adam has been a wonderful player for the club and I still believe his best years are ahead of him. I think it will be sorted out."
Originally published as Bennett turns up heat on Bunnies in Reynolds spat