Wayne Bennett to coach Newcastle in 2012

Wayne Bennett has today ended months of speculation, with the Tinkler Sports Group announcing he will be joining the Newcastle Knights for a four year deal rumoured to be worth $5 million.

Thought to be a two horse race after Bennett declared he would not be returning to Brisbane last week, fans of both Newcastle and South Sydney were confident of securing his signature.

In a press conference on March 30, Bennett stated he would be parting ways with the St George Illawarra Dragons at the end of 2011. He refused to answer any questions regarding his decision for 2012, apart from stating that it was "not about money. It's about the challenge".

However, in typical style, Bennett dropped a number of red herrings and false tips throughout the interview, fueling speculation of which club would obtain his talents. When asked if it was hard being away from his family (in Brisbane), Bennett replied "If I have to be away for another three years, I will be away for another three years".

Then, in a continuation of the ongoing saga, Bennett turned down a coaching offer to return to Brisbane, after former head coach Ivan Henjak spoke out about the reasons for his sacking. This set up a head-to-head battle between Nathan Tinkler and Russell Crowe for the coach's services.

Bennett announced in a press conference last week that he had made his decision, but would not be making public his choice at that time.

However today, a press conference has been called for 1pm, with Bennett to formally announce his intentions to coach the Knights with a four year contract starting in 2012.

Bennett has said that his main focus for this season is still to win back-to-back premierships with the St George Illawarra Dragons. Rick Stone's role with the Knights will likely become more clear in this afternoon's press conference.

More information as it comes to hand.