Is this the beginning of the end for Wayne Bennett? Coach Wayne Bennett, Brisbane Broncos training, Red Hill. Photographer: Liam Kidston.
Is this the beginning of the end for Wayne Bennett? Coach Wayne Bennett, Brisbane Broncos training, Red Hill. Photographer: Liam Kidston.

Brisbane’s Bennett plan a farce from the start

ONE Broncos staffer summed it up succinctly when, amid the circus that is Brisbane's pursuit of Craig Bellamy, he said: "Paul Morgan wouldn't have let it come to this."

Morgan, one of the Broncos' founding fathers, didn't beat around the bush. Nicknamed 'Porky', Morgan, a stockbroker by trade who died in 2001, was a larger-than-life figure who didn't deal in shades of grey.

He famously never signed a contract with Wayne Bennett, Brisbane's foundation coach. Their contract was a handshake. His word was his bond. A man of conviction, he went hard for his targets and got things done.

 

One can only imagine what Porky must be thinking from the heavens as he watches over the dog's breakfast involving Bellamy, Wayne Bennett and a Broncos coaching succession plan that appears half-hearted in its execution.

Handling Bennett's eventual departure from Red Hill should be a simple exercise. Instead, the Broncos, cruelled by a lack of courage, Morgan-like conviction and administrative backbone, have turned Bennett's exit strategy into rocket science.

Brisbane's much-vaunted succession plan is as clear as mud.

Their leaders should be embarrassed.

Bennett was left out of the process.
Bennett was left out of the process.

Bennett has no idea if he will be coaching Brisbane in 2020. The Broncos have no idea if Bellamy will be coming at all. Paul White, the NRL's highest-paid CEO on a $915,000 salary, can't decide whether a chat with Bellamy represents a "conversation" or a negotiation.

He confirms he has met with Bellamy, but insists he hasn't tabled an offer. Apparently, they never talked dollars, or contracts. What on earth did they discuss? Presumably, they spoke about gardening, or whether the sky is blue.

Amid the Fawlty Towers-style disorder, the Broncos board continues to dither.

Bennett is the club's only premiership coach, having delivered all six titles, yet three years into his return to Red Hill, Brisbane's board cannot make a definitive call on what to do with the greatest mentor in NRL history.

Determined to expedite matters, Bennett, a man cut from the same cloth as Morgan, attempted to force White and Brisbane's hand.

The club has grossly disrespected Bennett.
The club has grossly disrespected Bennett.

When the off-contract Bellamy revealed exclusively in The Courier-Mail last month that he had not closed the door on a return to the Broncos, Bennett organised a meeting with White.

Friends for 34 years since their time in the Queensland Police Academy, he told White the club had to plan for the future.

At 68, he understood the succession plan was coming and advised White that if he wanted to contact Bellamy, he would understand.

There was just one caveat - should White formally ring Bellamy, Bennett urged his good mate to keep him in the loop.

For three weeks, Bennett heard nothing.

Ten days ago, a third party called Bennett to pass on a whisper that White had secretly reached out to Bellamy. Last week, there was a second tip-off.

Incredibly, another Broncos employee heard White had flown to Melbourne to meet Bellamy. The staffer advised Bennett, who called White yesterday morning to ask if the rumours about him contacting Bellamy were true.

It would be a sad end for the club’s greatest coach.
It would be a sad end for the club’s greatest coach.

White confirmed the pair had spoken. This after Bennett recently fronted a Broncos board meeting to privately inform Brisbane's executives that he intended to seek another term to coach the club in 2020.

Ultimately, Brisbane's successor for Bennett will not be a democratic choice. Broncos chairman Karl Morris has told White it is his job to deliver a candidate's name to the board.

Perhaps, Morris should show some gumption and bring some clarity to this chaotic debacle. The Broncos board should meet and make a firm decision. Tell Bennett his wonderful tenure at the Broncos will end next year at age 69 with a view to finding a fresh face, be it Bellamy, Bennett's current assistant Jason Demetriou or Kevin Walters.

Bennett insisted he has been given an undertaking by the board that he is safe for 2019, but surely after the machinations of the past month, the only man the supercoach can trust at Red Hill is the man in the mirror.

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