When the Broncos board sacked Wayne Bennett yesterday, it simply proved the 68-year-old coach had far too much grey matter in public perception, and wasn’t just the colour of his hair.
While Ivan Cleary broke his coaching contract with Wests-Tigers to sign with the Panthers, and Anthony Seibold prepared to do the same with Souths to go to the Broncos, Bennett was in the pole position.
He knew it, no-one else realised it.
By saying he was going to honour the last year of his Bronco contract before moving to Souths in a direct swap with Siebold in 2020, both clubs were in an immediate stand-off no-win position.
It wasn’t only the coaching job, it was the players from both clubs, their sponsors, and their fans, not knowing what 2019 would bring to the table.
Wayne Bennett was the only problem, but he had a legal contract on his side.
While everyone expected a direct swap for next season, Bennett stood firm.
The Broncos board fell into the Bennett trap by going MIA for the last month, leaving Bennett to cop all the public, and media flak – and he copped plenty.
Nothing new in that with the unsmiling, never had a drink, or a smoke, Bennett making his on-going clashes with the media legendary virtually from the start of his NRL coaching career as co-coach with Don Furner at the Raiders in 1987.
Bennett became the inaugural coach of the Broncos when the club entered the competition in 1988 to deliver six premierships until he left for the Dragons in 2009, where he produced another premiership.
From there to the Knights for three seasons before returning home to the Broncos in 2015, reaching his eighth grand final in a spine-tingling loss in extra time to the Cowboys.
All up 809 games for 502 wins, and a 62.05 per cent win rate – staggering stats.
I have always rated Bennett as the rugby league equivalent of the greatest Davis Cup captain of all-time Harry Hopman, better known as The Fox.
Bennett was the rugby league fox in the last month until Seibold blew up yesterday with a double-page spread in the Sunday Telegraph with a heading of “Wayne’s mayhem is now hurting my kids” that forced the Broncos board’s hand.
They had to come out of hiding to put some sanity into the coaching farce.
So the way is now clear for Anthony Seibold to coach the Broncos starting today, with Wayne Bennett moving to Souths.
But the Broncos board will have to pay out Bennett’s contract, so effectively he will be paid by both clubs in 2019.
Which proves Wayne James Bennett is a cagey old bugger who will make the Rabbits run well in 2019.