Bennett will go elsewhere if he’s not wanted. Picture: AAP/Dave Hunt
Bennett will go elsewhere if he’s not wanted. Picture: AAP/Dave Hunt

Hungry Bennett open to rival clubs’ offers

WAYNE Bennett says he is not a spent force and will consider any offer from an NRL rival, including the Panthers, if he is not wanted by the Broncos.

Bennett's stance comes as Titans millionaire co-owner Darryl Kelly said he is open to having discussions with the seven-time premiership coach about a possible role at the Gold Coast in 2020.

Former Broncos mentor Anthony Griffin's sacking at the Panthers on Monday has sent the coaching merry-go-round spinning with Bennett, off-contract next year, being linked to the Penrith post.

Bennett and Panthers supremo Phil Gould were on the judging panel that chose the code's five new Immortals last week, fuelling speculation the pair had the platform to discuss linking formally at Penrith.

The Courier-Mail can reveal Bennett is prepared to move to Sydney to coach the Panthers in 2020.

Bennett will go elsewhere if he’s not wanted. (AAP Image/Dave Hunt)
Bennett will go elsewhere if he’s not wanted. (AAP Image/Dave Hunt)

He is also open to offers on a consultancy or director-of-football role at the Titans, believing he can inject his title-winning know-how to turn the Gold Coast into an NRL powerhouse.

But either scenario is ultimately contingent upon his future at the Broncos, who will consign Bennett to free-agent status if they refuse his request for one final 12-month term at Red Hill.

The Courier-Mail understands Bennett has been informally sounded out by the Panthers, but the 68-year-old said he has received no formal approach.

However, Bennett said if the Broncos board didn't want him beyond 2019, he was open to any offer.

 

Bennett could replace Griffin at Penrith, as he did at Brisbane. (AAP Image/Dave Hunt)
Bennett could replace Griffin at Penrith, as he did at Brisbane. (AAP Image/Dave Hunt)
 

"I will say this - my first position is I want to continue as coach of the Broncos," Bennett said.

"That's my preferred position. But if that (coaching the Broncos) is not the case, I still have a desire to coach. I'm not done yet. I will go where my career takes me."

Asked if he could work with another powerful personality in Gould, Bennett said: "I can't answer that one.

"I don't want to say anymore than that. The Broncos board has asked me not to comment until the season is over."

Bennett and Gould were influential figures last week in the judging-panel bombshell that saw three pre-war players honoured as Immortals.

Bennett lauded Gould's contribution, rating the Immortals discussion one of the most positive experiences of his career.

Penrith boss Gould didn’t say no … (AAP Image/Joel Carrett)
Penrith boss Gould didn’t say no … (AAP Image/Joel Carrett)

Four days later, Gould made the decision to sack Griffin. Adding to the intrigue, Gould refused to emphatically rule out Bennett as a possible contender for the Panthers job.

"That would be fun wouldn't it," Gould said when asked about the prospect of working with Bennett.

"Crikey. Could he work with me?

"I don't know what Wayne is doing with the Broncos at the moment. It's got nothing to do with us."

Gold Coast co-owner Kelly said he was happy with coach Garth Brennan, who is off-contract next year, but is willing to talk to Bennett if he was serious about helping the Titans.

"I'm not sure if we could afford Wayne but if he is interested, it's worth having the conversation," Kelly said.

"Wayne is contracted next year, but beyond that, I would certainly consider having discussions with Wayne.

"If we created an additional role, we wouldn't do it unless there was buy-in from everyone at the club."

 

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