Brisbane Broncos finally turn the page on Wayne Bennett, giving Anthony Seibold room to move
Anthony Seibold has big shoes to fill at the Brisbane Broncos after the end of the Wayne Bennett era. (AAP)
When the mushroom cloud surrounding rugby league’s messiest divorce dissipates, new Brisbane Broncos coach Anthony Seibold will be afforded a clean air only one man has ever known.
- Wayne Bennett has coached the Brisbane Broncos for all but six seasons of the club’s 31-year history, and all six of their premierships
- Bennett’s popularity has waned and he fell out with chief executive Paul White
- He has been sacked by the club and replaced for 2019 by former South Sydney coach Anthony Seibold
Once, and for all, it can be written in stone that Wayne Bennett will never coach the Broncos again.
Seibold enters a realm former Brisbane coaches Ivan Henjak and Anthony Griffin could only dream of.
The National Rugby League’s biggest club has been re-born. The Broncos have only ever existed in times with Bennett either in control or being discussed as a returning saviour to guide the club back to the glory days.
Bennett and the Broncos
- Wayne Bennett: 1988 – 2008 (six premierships)
- Ivan Henjak: 2009-2010
- Anthony Griffin: 2011-2014
- Wayne Bennett: 2015-2018
- Anthony Seibold: 2019-?
Bennett: 625 games, W: 401 L: 212 D: 12
All others: 152 games, W: 81 L: 70 D: 1
Those conversations will happen no more.
Seibold will bathe or burn in his own sun, unlike Henjak or Griffin, who went about their business in an almighty shadow wary of the whispers and knives hiding within.
Henjak was sacked after two years, coincidentally or otherwise, only months after Bennett guided St George-Illawarra to a drought-breaking premiership in 2010.
The Dragons’ 2010 NRL grand final win only raised the pressure from Broncos fans to bring Wayne Bennett back to Brisbane. (AAP: Dean Lewins)
Bennett’s failed venture at Newcastle made the founding father available for a return to Red Hill after the 2014 season and an almost self-effacing Griffin made way for the master’s return.
During his six years elsewhere, Bennett was still ardently loved in the Queensland capital, and those who coached the Broncos were weighed down with comparison.
As seasons passed, opinions changed, and Bennett now leaves nowhere near as popular among the faithful as he was when he returned in 2015.
Anthony Griffin never really escaped from Wayne Bennett’s shadow in his four years at the club. (AAP: Dave Hunt, file photo)
Part of it had to do with the way the Broncos were performing. Most of it had to do with a maturing fanbase who could see through the media manipulation to a man who was struggling for control.
Sport can make and break lifelong bonds, and two men who started their tenures as Brisbane chief executive as friends of the master coach have overseen his exit.
Former Broncos chief executive Bruno Cullen did his level best to create an equilibrium between administration and coach following the club’s last premiership in 2006, but the relationship was in tatters two years later.
Current boss Paul White oversaw and trumpeted Bennett’s return for the 2015 season and regularly used the aura of the master coach to fill the club’s corporate coffers.
The Broncos just failed to win their seventh premiership when beaten by the Cowboys in the 2010 grand final. (AAP: Dean Lewins)
The next two years rolled on and the Broncos never got as close as they did in 2015, and two men and their ideas as to what was best for the club started on a collision course.
White wanted Bennett to retire as a coach and move into an administrative role. Bennett wanted to keep coaching and finish at Brisbane on his terms.
All the while, both men were facing immense battles in their private lives with White fighting brain cancer and Bennett going through a messy separation from former wife Trish.
To their credit, their personal issues never outwardly seemed to affect their jobs, and ultimately it was their philosophy of what was best for the future at Red Hill that dragged the Broncos into their messiest saga.
White was forced to pull the trigger and shoot the founding father, albeit due to Bennett committing the ultimate of sporting sins by colluding with the opposition.
Both men, and the club they love, have had their reputations tarnished in the process.
Now enter Seibold. Dally M coach of the year after an outstanding rookie season in which he took South Sydney to the preliminary final.
A coaching star on the rise with a five-year contract at the biggest NRL club in the land.
Clean air, or as clean as it gets, for a club where only premierships will do.