Published by Staff Writers, 2 December 2018 on foxsports.com.au
Wayne Bennett’s 25-season reign with Brisbane is over, with the NRL club sacking the seven-time premiership coach and announcing Anthony Seibold is taking over immediately.
And in an incredible twist, Broncos chief executive Paul White revealed the club had made the decision official on Sunday without having spoken to the legendary coach.
“I made multiple phone calls and unfortunately I had to communicate the decision over voice message and email,” White said at a press conference.
“You might ask was that disappointing? Yes it was. But such was the nature of this whole issue, it was important we had it resolved, particularly before the players return (on Monday).
“I wasn’t in a position to speak to him directly.”
News Corp reported Bennett was spending Sunday afternoon with his disadvantaged son Justin with his phone off.
The Broncos earlier on Sunday released a statement confirming they had terminated Bennett’s contract with immediate effect.
“The Broncos thank him for his contribution to the club and wish him all the best in the future.” In another statement they said: “Anthony Seibold will join the Brisbane Broncos as coach effective immediately.” The move ends a month-long stand-off, with Bennett now set to head to South Sydney to replace Seibold.
The coach swap comes a year earlier than the pair were initially contracted for. It follows 68-year-old Bennett’s bitter falling out with Brisbane powerbrokers when he could not secure a further term with the Broncos beyond his contract, which had been due to expire after 2019.
With both men signed to swap clubs from 2020, their positions appeared untenable for 2019 but Bennett stubbornly clung on, insisting he was going nowhere. Only on Friday, he stunned the rugby league world by promising to dig his heels in and stick out the final year of his contract.
The Broncos finally opted to sack the competition’s most experienced mentor following a spectacular weekend outburst from Seibold.
The Broncos coach-in-waiting launched a stinging attack on Bennett on Saturday and revealed the emotional toll the saga had taken on his young family. “I have had a gutful,” Seibold told News Corp Australia.
“I’ve been sitting here for four weeks and feeling like a punching bag. “It’s not acceptable and it’s not fair.” The reigning NRL coach of the year said he had twice been told by the Rabbitohs that he’d be coaching the Broncos in 2019 and that he’d actually packed up and cleaned out his office at the Rabbitohs on Thursday afternoon. Seibold pointed the finger firmly at Bennett for “playing games”.
“I told my wife and three daughters we’re leaving. We’ve told the kids twice we’re moving and then twice that we’re staying,” he said.
“They’ve been in tears. We’re trying to sort out their schools. It’s really taking its toll on them.” Bennett had previously denied any contact with Souths players but Seibold said the veteran coach had phoned Damien Cook, Alex Johnston and Sam Burgess about his plans for the Redfern club before Friday’s bombshell.
“Wayne Bennett has made a significant contribution to the success of the Broncos for which we will always be grateful,” News Corp Australasia executive chairman Michael Miller said in a statement.
“We understand and respect that the board’s decision is in the best interest of the club, it’s fans, the players, coaches and the staff.” While Bennett has officially been sacked, it appears the wily 68-year-old has pulled off a high-stakes game of nerve to possibly win a full payout. Bennett has defied Broncos bosses and public opinion for weeks, taking it right to the brink to achieve what maybe he always aimed for – being sacked and lucrative financial compensation.
“I made it easy for them last time. I’m not doing it this time,” he said in August.
Bennett left the Broncos in 2009, winning a premiership with St George Illawarra the following season, before returning to Red Hill in 2015 after three seasons also with Newcastle.