Broncos and Bennett united for finals
BRISBANE coach Wayne Bennett and chief executive Paul White have buried the hatchet in a bid to bring peace to a Broncos club eyeing a seventh premiership.
The Courier-Mail can reveal Bennett and White have held a private meeting to settle their differences to ensure Brisbane's ambitious title charge is not derailed by toxic infighting.
Bennett and Broncos hierarchy have been at loggerheads for months with White admitting a fortnight ago his 34-year friendship with the veteran mentor had been "strained" by the ructions over Brisbane's failed pursuit of Craig Bellamy.
Amid a tense political backdrop, Brisbane's players have rallied for Bennett, launching a late-season surge that could see the Broncos clinch a home final with victory over Manly on Sunday at Suncorp Stadium.
But the cold war between two of the Broncos' most powerful figures is over.
Sensing the Broncos are building the type of momentum that inspired their fairytale premiership win in 2006, Bennett reached out to White to put an end to one of the most turbulent chapters in the club's history.
Bennett and White met for a frank discussion at Brisbane's $27 million high-performance facility last Saturday week.
It came two days after the Broncos sounded an ominous warning in the NRL title race with a 38-18 thumping of Souths at Suncorp Stadium.
It is understood the pair agreed the ongoing public spat was destabilising for Broncos players.
White made it clear Broncos bosses were not attempting to force Bennett out and would offer him every respect, which includes a senior front-office position to remain at the Broncos in 2020.
Sources say Bennett acknowledged White's responsibilities as chief executive of the Broncos and pledged to put his energies into the upcoming finals campaign.
White has refused to guarantee Bennett's future as head coach for 2020, but the 68-year-old can secure a 12-month extension by breaking the longest title drought in the club's history.
In the wake of the Bennett-White meeting, the Broncos produced arguably their best performance of the season, a 22-8 boilover of the Roosters that has ignited their premiership hopes.
Veteran forward Sam Thaiday admitted Bennett's title-winning know-how could be Brisbane's X-factor in the playoffs after navigating their on and off-field sagas.
"It's been a rollercoaster this season," Thaiday said.
"But the last two weeks we've had a great attitude going into the Bunnies and Roosters games and we have to continue that now.
"Having Wayne's big-game experience is fantastic to calm the nerves of some of these young guys.
"He has been there and done it before. Having Wayne around to make sure our heads aren't in the clouds is pretty important."
A fortnight ago White admitted his relationship with Bennett was strained after the coach snubbed a team BBQ at the CEO's house.
"In any long-term friendships you go through tough times," he said.
"I know the headlines were 'Cold War' and I don't want to be involved in one of those.
"I've known Wayne 34 years, he's been a wonderful friend of mine and been a big influence on my life. I don't want to burn a friendship that has been there for a period of time.
"We are very professional in terms of our relationship. He has a job to do. I have a job to do and we are here to serve the club.
"I don't want to burn a friendship but equally I don't want to not do my job."
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