Wayne Bennett hasn't been getting things all his own way at the Broncos. Picture: Bradley Kanaris/Getty Images
Wayne Bennett hasn't been getting things all his own way at the Broncos. Picture: Bradley Kanaris/Getty Images

Bennett accused of telling lie in saga with Broncos board

WAYNE Bennett has been accused of telling a lie to give him the upper hand in his ongoing standoff with the Broncos' board of directors.

The veteran coach has declared the uncertainty surrounding his future has been a distraction for his players after the Broncos' ill-fated major play for Melbourne mentor Craig Bellamy earlier this year.

Broncos chief executive Paul White earlier this year declared Bennett would  see out his contract through to the end of the 2019 season.

According to reports, Bennett has approached the board to grant him a one-year contract extension to see him through to the end of the 2020 season.

The club has reportedly refused to budge on Bennett's request.

There have also been reports Bennett submitted his plan for the Broncos' coaching structure future to the board last month. Under that plan, he would have moved into a head-of-football role after the 2020 season, when assistant coach Jason Demetriou would take the top job.

The standoff between Bennett and the board has played out in a messy, public saga that has been fuelled by ongoing reports the Broncos may be looking to head in a new direction from the coach who has led the club to six premierships.

Wayne Bennett says he was never worried about Craig Bellamy taking his job.
Wayne Bennett says he was never worried about Craig Bellamy taking his job.

Daily Telegraph senior rugby league reporter Dean Ritchie told Triple M's Rush Hour with Mark Geyer on Tuesday night that the Broncos' board had for the first time in years decided to stand up to Bennett and take back control of the club.

Ritchie revealed there were rumours Bennett hds spoken with the Gold Coast Titans about a coaching role beginning in 2020 - if the Broncos failed to grant him the one-year extension.

"This is turning into a bit of a saga up there," Ritchie said.

"The Broncos' board are standing up to Wayne Bennett. Maybe it's the first time somebody's done that in many, many years.

"They're saying, 'We won't be pushed. You can front the media all you want. You can try and prod us and poke us, but we won't be budged on this. At this point we're not ready to give you that extra year.'

"Bennett can say all he wants, but at the moment it's just not going to happen. If they don't re-sign him, there's a bit of speculation about the Gold Coast. Could he end up down there? That's a chance.

"Bennett wants to continue coaching guys and he will pop up somewhere. Who knows where."

The veteran rugby league scribe then said he suspected Bennett might have told a lie in May when he declared that two clubs, including "one based in Sydney", had already made him an offer.

"I have already had a couple of offers - the door is not closed on me," Bennett said.

"At this point in my life I feel I still have a lot to offer.

Wayne Bennett still has a kick in his step. Picture: Dave Hunt/AAP
Wayne Bennett still has a kick in his step. Picture: Dave Hunt/AAP

"I feel great now and I won't be defined by my age, but if the club doesn't see that is relevant, I will coach somewhere else."

Parramatta was earlier this year linked with interest in Bennett. However, that was followed by reports denying the Eels ever had interest in the 68-year-old.

"There's a couple of clubs that he claims have contacted him from Sydney, but my honest truth is that Wayne might be telling a couple of porky pies there because I just don't think that's right," Ritchie said.

"Gold Coast would be obviously the sensible landing place for him if he left the Broncos."

He said Bennett would be looking at a significant salary haircut to make a move to a Sydney club.

"If Wayne Bennett wants $1 million a year or $1.2 million, there's not many clubs in Sydney that could genuinely afford that," he said.

"Having said that, I'm not a Wayne Bennett fan and I think he's a hypocrite and I think he carries on like he's the king of rugby league when he's not. He gets down in the gutter like everyone else.

Wayne Bennett has called for Jason Demetriou to be the Broncos’ next coach.
Wayne Bennett has called for Jason Demetriou to be the Broncos’ next coach.

"However, he's got the Broncos going pretty well at the moment. Success on the field may in fact force the Broncos board to give him the extra year that he wants. It's a really fascinating story. You've got a strong board with a strong coach and a strong club. Who's going to stare whom down in the long run?"

ON Tuesday night, Queensland rugby league legend and Kangaroos coach Mal Meninga said Bennett remained such a powerful figure at the club that any form of head-of-football role would create an untenable dynamic for his eventual successor.

"I hear that Wayne's proposal is about a head of football (role) and to have a head coach underneath him (from 2021)," Meninga told Fox League's Queenslanders Only.

"But I'm thinking, Wayne's been such an instrumental part of that club right from the beginning that you probably need to have a clean break and give an experienced coach an opportunity to do his own thing with the club.

"It is a club steeped in great culture and history and it's probably one of the biggest brands in Australian sport as well, so it's a huge role to take being head coach of the Broncos."


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