BRISBANE, AUSTRALIA — AUGUST 13: Coach Wayne Bennett watches on during a Brisbane Broncos NRL training session on August 13, 2018 in Brisbane, Australia. (Photo by Bradley Kanaris/Getty Images)
BRISBANE, AUSTRALIA — AUGUST 13: Coach Wayne Bennett watches on during a Brisbane Broncos NRL training session on August 13, 2018 in Brisbane, Australia. (Photo by Bradley Kanaris/Getty Images)

Broncos can’t afford to do a ‘Phil Gould’

WAYNE Bennett walked out of a marathon team meeting on to the training paddock with all the nonchalance of the part-time farmer that he is.

Hands in pockets, flashing that famous angular grin that radiates the vibe he knows something you don't, Bennett walked slowly, as if out on a morning stroll inspecting the crops.

At one point in the session he even had a quick yawn. That's Wayne for you, a man who's relaxed when you expect him to be intense and intense when you expect him to be relaxed.

Bennett would have known that less than 100m from where he stood a large media pack were debating his future and the strong prospect he would be sacked in October despite having another year on his contract.

You may say the pressure on Bennett is immense but there are two blow torches at play here - one directed at Bennett and an even hotter one blazing squarely in the direction of the Broncos board.

Why? Because the Broncos cannot afford to do a Phil Gould, that's why.

Bennett is on thin ice at Brisbane. AAP Image/Dave Hunt.
Bennett is on thin ice at Brisbane. AAP Image/Dave Hunt.

If the Broncos sack Bennett without a decent Plan B they could look as foolish as Gould did when he frogmarched Anthony Griffin out the door with indecent haste at Penrith last week to replace him with … nobody.

If Bennett failed to look stressed it may be because he is comforted by the thought that whatever lies ahead he won't be sent to the soup kitchens.

The one certainty over Bennett's 2019 is that he will earn $1 million by either (a) coaching the Broncos, (b) coaching a club like Penrith or Parramatta or (c) gardening at his new house in Brisbane's western suburbs after his contract is paid out.

Getting rid of Bennett is one thing - finding a suitable replacement quite another.

There is no perfect choice. Every option has a significant downside.

With Craig Bellamy and Paul Green out of the running, Anthony Seibold is the Broncos new priority target but he is contracted to South Sydney until the end of next year.

The entire rugby league world is understandably infatuated with Seibold on the strength of his exceptional debut season with the Rabbitohs.

Could this season be Bennett’s last in Brisbane. Photo by Bradley Kanaris/Getty Images.
Could this season be Bennett’s last in Brisbane. Photo by Bradley Kanaris/Getty Images.

He is being chased as if he is the new Jack Gibson but he hasn't even coached a team in an NRL final yet. When he landed the Souths job, many league fans had never heard of him.

And coaching Souths, for all of its decorated history, is different to coaching in Brisbane where the Broncos command such an overwhelming spotlight, one that Seibold never had to endure when he was at the club as an anonymous lower-grade player.

Big clubs need big personalities. For all of Seibold's wonderful progress at Souths and groundbreaking methods it still cannot be said with certainty he would not be overwhelmed.

Sadly, Kevin Walters is the man lost in all this.

Walters, with the QRL's blessing, would be available and his return to Red Hill would immediately galvanise the old boys network that is now fractured in their support of the club.

Teams that Walters has been associated with are generally happy and win - two qualities currently trading in gold bars.