Like most rising Queensland rugby league stars, Ben Ikin looked up to supercoach Wayne Bennett as mentor.
He would eventually join the Brisbane Broncos and with Bennett at the helm, won a NRL premiership in 2000.
Off the field, Ikin was welcomed into Bennett’s tight-knit family with open arms after marrying his daughter Elizabeth.
Today, Ikin and his wife are estranged from the NRL coach after he walked out on his wife of 42 years Trish to start a relationship with a woman 16 years his junior in 2016.
The private family feud escalated publicly after Bennett’s partner of four years Dale Cage, 54, lashed at his son-in-law Ikin on social media on Saturday.
NRL supercoach Wayne Bennett (right) has been estranged from his once tight-knit family since starting a relationship with Dale Cage (left) four years ago
Bennett, 70, has come under fire in recent days after he breached the NRL’s strict COVID-19 biosecurity protocols by having lunch with Cage at popular Italian restaurant Grappa in Sydney last Wednesday.
Bennett was later fined $20,000 and banned from the coaches box for two games.
His explanation for his actions the following day angered his Fox Sports commentator son-in-law who labelled the breach ‘arrogant and irresponsible’.
‘It felt a bit arrogant to me, he’d made the mistake, and should have just fessed up to struggling with living in the bubble and saying that he just sort of broke out of it,’ Ikin told Fox Sports on Thursday night.
‘Because there is no way known, based on the phone calls that I have made today, that there is not a single NRL employee, player, coach, whoever, that is inside the bubble now and does not know those rules.’
Queensland Origin great Ben Ikin (pictured) slammed his father-in-law Wayne Bennett on Fox Sports on Thursday night, sparking a war of words with Bennett’s current partner
Cage leapt to the defence of her partner of four years on Saturday with a bitter swipe at his son-in-law.
‘People in glass houses shouldn’t throw stones #just saying. The truth will hurt some people #staytuned #benikin,’ she posted on Instagram.
The glamorous blonde uploaded a cryptic post hours earlier.
‘The self-righteous scream judgement against other to hide the skeletons dancing in their own closets,’ the scathing post read.
Ms Cage has since turned her Instagram to private after making headlines over the posts.
Relations soured between Ikin and his father-in-law after Bennett separated from his wife and started a relationship with mother-of-three Cage, a secretary he met during his coaching stint at the Newcastle Knights.
It’s understood the blonde beauty was working as a secretary at a performance physiotherapy clinic when she crossed paths with Bennett.
Dale Cage (right) has defended her partner Wayne Bennett after he was penalised by the NRL for breaching its biosecurity protocols. The couple are pictured in Mudgee in March
Dale Cage took aim at her partner’s son-in-law, NRL commentator Ben Ikin on Saturday
Ikin and his wife, who have four children, sided with Trish, the wife Bennett left behind.
At the time, the notoriously private Bennett revealed he was no longer living in the family home and hadn’t for ‘some time’ and requested the media respect his ‘personal privacy’ and that of his family.
Ms Cage left her partner of more than 20 years, who is also the father of her children, and moved to Queensland to be with Bennett, who was coaching the Brisbane Broncos in 2016.
A source said Jason had to tell their children after he heard rumours about who his ex-partner was seeing.
‘He called Dale and she confirmed it, then he told the kids,’ the source told Daily Mail Australia in 2016.
Just two years earlier, Bennett was regarded as a family man full of glowing praise for wife Trish as the primary carer of their two adult disabled children Katherine and Justin in Brisbane while he spent six years coaching 1076km away in Wollongong and then Newcastle.
Wayne Bennett and then wife Trish (pictured) shared a rare glimpse of their challenging family life with ABC’s Australian Story in 1999
Bennett told the Courier Mail he couldn’t have spent six seasons interstate without his wife’s support and blessing.
‘Trish and the family didn’t want to see me staying at home and not being happy and not being challenged. Like myself, they would naturally prefer me to be at home, but they were happy for me to go (to the Dragons and Newcastle) because they knew it’s what I wanted to do,’ he told the publication in 2014.
‘We just got on with life as a family and as a unit we have made it work.’
At the time, Ikin described his mother-in-law as tough and pragmatic as the seven-time title-winning NRL coach.
‘When you are around Wayne and even more so Trish, you can’t help but admire how they live their lives more than anything. It’s amazing when you are close to your in laws, you see life through a different lens,’ Ikin said.
He added he felt ‘very lucky’ to have met both his in-laws.
Wayne and Trish Bennett (pictured with their three children) were married for 42 years
Bennett has been with former secretary and mother-of-three Dale Cage (pictured) since 2016
Bennett and Trish also shared a rare and inspirational insight into their challenging personal lives for ABC’s Australian Story in 1999.
The episode portrayed a close family having dinner and watching television together and playing footy on the beach.
Bennett said his wife was a big factor in the great success he had at the Broncos.
‘I wouldn’t have achieved those things if Trish hadn’t been so supportive of what I wanted to do,’ he told the program.
‘I wouldn’t have coached, I would have walked away from all of it if it meant the marriage and the children. They were more important bu she’s allowed me to do this and we’ve been doing for 20-odd years and we’ve done it with great co-operation.’
‘She’s the one that’s been the success story. It’s totally unselfish. I’ve never seen a woman give so much to everyone else and require nothing in return.’
Until their marriage breakdown in 2016, Wayne Bennett attributed his great success as an NRL coach to his wife Trish (pictured with their three children)