Richo: Bennett’s honesty better than ‘bulls**t’
Shane Richardson has strongly defended Wayne Bennett's treatment of Adam Doueihi in the wake of Latrell Mitchell's arrival at South Sydney, declaring it's better for a coach to be honest with a player than "bullshit" to him.
Richardson also issued a no-nonsense warning to Wests Tigers that Doueihi won't be released unless the Tigers are prepared to pay a fair price to accommodate the transfer.
And while the Souths football boss also revealed the chances of Jai Arrow joining the Bunnies in 2020 was becoming less likely, Richardson said Doueihi's predicament in no way hinged on Arrow's immediate future.
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Bennett has come under fire for telling Doueihi straight up that it would be in his best interests to leave if he wanted to cement an NRL starting spot because Mitchell would now get first crack at fullback.
This has even led to some speculation that it also caused a rift between Richardson and Bennett behind closed doors.
But Richardson explained he thinks the way Bennett handled a very difficult situation was honourable: "We always knew when we did the Latrell deal that there would be players concerned about their positions.
"And Wayne has had to deal with that and he has dealt with it, I think, in a very, very fair way and an honest way, and that doesn't happen very often in rugby league.
"I have been with coaches over a long period of time where they have just continued to tell bullshit to players.
"Wayne doesn't do that. He tells them the truth upfront which I think is the best way to handle it."
But Richardson also said at no stage did Bennett tell Doueihi he had to leave.
"What he said was that it was going to be hard for him to make the starting side," Richardson said.
"For a kid that has been in the starting side for the last couple of years that is a hard call to make. But that doesn't mean he can't force his way in the side. Wayne has never said that to him at all.
"He is a really good kid and we have to take his feelings into consideration and everything else but at the end of the day we are just not going to give him away."
It is understood Doueihi is on $550,000 at Souths this year but the Tigers are apparently baulking at paying him $375,000 to make the deal happen.
Richardson defended Souths' stance: "We put him on the money that we have got him on because we think he is going to be a really good player.
"So releasing him is a big call for us. It is not an easy call at all.
"Also, we never approached anybody to release him. They approached us.
"We didn't put him on the market. They came to us, even before Wayne spoke to him about it.
"We are in a situation where he is a great kid who we have brought through the ranks and it is very difficult for us to let him go and if we don't have to let him go we won't."
Richardson also revealed that it was becoming less likely Arrow would be playing at Souths in 2020 because at this point Gold Coast was just not budging.
"I can certainly understand why, he is a great kid," Richardson said. "We have to respect the Gold Coast's position.
"Mal (Meninga) has said he doesn't think he is going to let him go, he has told me that a couple of times.
"We have been in contact weekly and I don't want to be hassling him. And (Arrow) is not agitating. He is not that sort of kid.
"It is a decision for them to make. We will just have to sit here and wait and respect their decision-making process."
But regardless Richardson reckons the Bunnies have a pack that is strong enough to stand toe-to-toe with the other heavyweight contenders.
"We are not exactly devoid of middles. Arrow would be the cream on the cake for us but he is not the cake," Richardson said.
"Cam Murray is one of the best in the world. Thomas Burgess is one of the best props in the world. Junior Tatola has come along in leaps and bounds. Liam Knight is a player who some people are starting to talk about (potentially) in State of Origin, Mark Nicholls has done the job, Tom Amone is coming through and Kurt Dillon.
"I know it sounds like I am talking it up but I really believe that."