Kent: Why Broncos want Bennett out
WAYNE Bennett falls, a victim of what he helped create, which is the most professional club in the NRL.
No longer the most professional team.
That is Craig Bellamy's Melbourne, the coach poised to replace him.
The perfect marriage of club and team is what Broncos officials are trying to achieve by dangling the richest coaching contract in history in front of Bellamy to coach Brisbane next season and for three seasons after that.
HUGE: Bennett out, Bellamy in
It is unclear what the Broncos plan for Bennett next season, where he is also under contract, but a payout seems inevitable.
As Bellamy decides his future Bennett finds himself, on the eve of becoming the first coach in history to hit 800 games, in an unfamiliar position.
Being pushed out the door.
For 20 years Bennett shaped the most professional club in the NRL. The Broncos were the club every other club aspired to match.
This influence was only properly realised when he left after the 2008 season, when both club and coach acknowledged they got a little too familiar, and the Broncos collapsed while Bennett sailed forward, winning a premiership with St George Illawarra in 2010.
It put the final polish on Bennett's reputation.
He almost re-signed at St George Illawarra after sacking himself at Newcastle in 2014. He accepted the job and then withdrew when the Broncos formalised their offer late.
Dragons chief executive Peter Doust revealed what a club got when Bennett was coach.
"You could go to sleep at night knowing the football department wasn't a problem," he said at the time.
Doust got lucky.
He was forced to keep Paul McGregor as head coach. McGregor came out before this season claiming that finally, after three years hard graft, he has the roster he put together. He leads the competition with that squad.
Doust also got lucky on the other side.
The Broncos believed they were signing what the Dragons missed. A coach you could throw the keys to the football department to and then not have to worry after that.
It has not quite worked out that way.
It is impossible to separate Bennett's coaching life with the upheaval in his personal life, as tawdry as it might seem to mention.
When Bennett returned to Brisbane he returned in the only role he is comfortable in; the Boss.
The Broncos were buying the magic of Bennett. He is no normal coach.
It did not matter that many around the game will argue that his tactics are not as contemporary as the other, equally successful modern coaches.
There is no better man manager in the game. Never has been.
Bennett's great talent is himself, that's what you got with him, and that is where he ultimately let himself down.
No one reason has contributed to Brisbane's decision to replace Bennett.
Bennett has become increasingly distracted though, a conversation that remains relevant because with each distraction the distance between coach and player, a subtle one, grew.
He began to delegate to assistant coach Jason Demetriou. More and more recruitment was driven through recruitment boss Peter Nolan.
Each man is better than competent. Nothing wrong with the job they were doing.
But being coached by Demetriou is not the same as being coached by Bennett.
Kevin Walters walked away from the Broncos earlier this season because he did not like the direction the club was heading.
Walters claimed it was to concentrate on coaching Queensland. He also signed a nondisclosure agreement.
No single event decided Bennett's fate.
Concern picked up considerably after the Broncos found themselves embroiled in the Matt Lodge Affair.
Bennett made the decision to keep Lodge from the media with promises, for more than a year that he would let him talk eventually, when the time was right. When the first round loomed and Lodge still had not spoken the pressure ramped up.
D-Day was approaching. Bennett did what he does, which is dig in and refuse to be bullied.
It won him further admiration among the acolytes but it cost the Broncos more. The club realised it.
Eventually so did Bennett, who privately made a deal for Lodge to be interviewed.
But it was too late.
The NRL promised it would now oversee all similar incidents in the future to avoid it happening.
Where Bennett will go if Bellamy accepts Brisbane's offer and takes his job is uncertain.
It does not appear any NRL jobs are available next season. That could change, though, with a coach of Bennett's stature on the market.
Oddly, Wigan announced this week that coach Shaun Wane will leave at season's end possibly opening the way for Bennett to take the reins and solve some of his immediate problems.
Earlier this year, as speculation that Bellamy was being sought to replace him heated up, Bennett complained that coaching was no longer fun anymore because of the media intrusion.
"You guys have ruined it," he said, before walking out.
A contract at Wigan following a surprise announcement he was leaving the Broncos would have fit the Bennett persona perfectly.
His own man to the end, exiting on his terms, with a big up yours to the media on the way out.
It does not have the same effect now we know Bellamy is looming.