The only contact NRL supercoach Wayne Bennett has with his grandkids is through birthday cards after his affair and marriage breakdown ripped his once close-knit family apart, a new book has revealed.
The seven-time premiership coach sent shockwaves through the code in 2016 when he confirmed reports that his 42-year marriage with wife Trish had ended.
Just days later, Daily Mail Australia revealed the identity of Bennett’s new lover as mother-of-three Dale Cage, 22 years his junior whom he met three years earlier while coaching at the Newcastle Knights.
The new relationship took a devastating toll on Bennett’s relationship with his daughter Beth, who’s been married to Queensland league legend Ben Ikin for 20 years.
Beth and Ikin sided with her mother Trish, who is the primary carer of two adult disabled children who she had with Bennett.
Beth’s estrangement from her dad saw the private family matter burst out into the public eye.
Wayne Bennett’s relationship with Dale Cage saw him estranged from his daughter
Bennett’s newly released biography The Wolf You Feed, by journalist Andrew Webster, sheds new light on his relationship with Cage and estrangement with Beth, who was interviewed for the book.
In late 2018, Bennett signed up to coach the South Sydney Rabbitohs after he was sacked by the Brisbane Broncos and returned to Sydney with Cage.
He was still hurting from the fallout of his marriage breakdown and estrangement from his family two years earlier, particularly his four grandchildren.
Rabbitohs football manager Mark Ellison shared an office with Bennett during his time with the club.
Ellison recalled to Webster the day he saw Bennett writing on a birthday card at training.
‘Who’s the card for Coach?’ Ellison asked.
Bennett replied: ‘This is for one of my grandkids.
‘My daughter doesn’t talk to me anymore, but I still send them a card so they know I care for them.’
It appears tensions have since eased with his daughter as Bennett recently attended his eldest grandson’s 21st birthday.
The book recalls how the grandkids have always called him ‘Coach’ rather than ‘Grandpa’ or ‘Poppy’- a term which Bennett insisted on.
Webster also writes that Beth appears still ‘wounded’ by her father’s decision to leave her mother for another woman.
Rabbitoh’s football manager Mark Ellison (pictured in suit far right) recalled how Bennett would send birthday cards to his grandchildren so they knew he still cared for them
The NRL supercoach remains estranged from son-in-law Ben Ikin, who’s married to Bennett’s daughter Beth
In 2020 during the pandemic, Bennett’s private family feud escalated into the public eye.
His son-in-law, former player turned commentator Ikin, slammed him on Fox Sports for breaching NRL’s code’s strict COVID-19 biosecurity protocols.
Bennett was fined $20,000 after he and Cage seen dining at upmarket Sydney Italian restaurant, Grappa.
Several days later, Cage sparked a media storm after she took a swipe at Ikin in a scathing social media post.
‘People in glass houses shouldn’t throw stones #justsaying. The truth will hurt some people #staytuned #benikin,’ she posted on Instagram.
‘The self-righteous scream judgement against other to hide the skeletons dancing in their own closets,’ she added, before switching her account to private.
Ms Cage attempted to downplay her Instagram post when contacted by Daily Mail Australia at the time.
‘There’s no situation,’ Ms Cage said. ‘I have no comment to make’.
She refused to reveal whether she regretted the social media spray that went to the heart of their strained relationship.
Bennett’s daughter Beth (in pink) was the middle child of Wayne Bennett’s three children with wife Trish
NRL supercoach Wayne Bennett (right) became estranged from his once tight-knit family in the wake of his relationship with Dale Cage
The Wolf You Feed: Wayne Bennett – The Man, The Myth, The Mayhem by Andrew Webster is published by Macmillan Australia
A tight-lipped Ikin refused to add further fuel to the fire when contacted. It’s unknown what prompted Cage’s attack on Ikin.
The feud flared up again in last December when media reports claimed that Bennett had reconciled with his estranged son-in-law Ikin earlier in the year.
Cage shared a snippet of the article to Instagram and labelled it ‘rubbish’.
‘Wayne confirmed this morning this is not true!’ she posted on Sunday. ‘He still doesn’t like him,’ she added with a laughing emoji.
While Beth eventually agreed to be interviewed for her dad’s biography, Ikin declined, according to Webster.
While Bennett is unsure whether he and Ikin will make amends, he describes as Beth is like ‘talking to myself’.
‘Beth is me,’ Bennett said.
‘I ring her and it’s like talking to myself.’
Beth believes her father could not have achieved what he has without the support of her mother, whom she referred to as his ‘North Star.’
‘Maybe I can convince you to write a chapter called the X-factor and cross out the X and put a T (for Trish),’ she suggested.
‘Without her, even if he was single, he couldn’t have done what he’s done.
‘We grounded him. When the pendulum shifted, and everyone loved him, he’d come home and get sledged by us.
‘(Mum) looked after the house, made sure it was all tickety-boo. He could fully focus knowing he had a beautiful home to come back to, knowing that he could take off without missing a beat because mum made sure it all ran properly.’
Wayne Bennett (right) still speaks to former wife and the mother of his three Trish (left)
Bennett and Trish are still not legally divorced and still speak most days, mainly about care requirements for their first-born Justin who is wheelchair-bound has Dravet syndrome, a rare and lifelong form of epilepsy.
‘She is his North Star,’ Beth said.
‘She still is. Without her, none of this happens.’
Asked if her mother has ever spoken badly about Bennett, Beth replies: ‘Never.’
A notoriously private person, Bennett broke down while speaking about Trish to Webster
‘She’s a special person,’ Bennett says of Trish.
The Wolf You Feed: Wayne Bennett – The Man, The Myth, The Mayhem by Andrew Webster is published by Macmillan Australia and out on September 12. RRP: $37.