White: Talk of sacking Seibold is 'nonsense'
Broncos chief executive Paul White has hit out at claims the club's culture is broken and says Brisbane powerbrokers will not hit the panic button by sacking coach Anthony Seibold if they miss the finals this season.
In his only interview on Brisbane's form crisis, White speaks candidly with The Sunday Mail about Seibold's contract, the state of the Broncos and the pressure to break the club's 14-year title drought.
The long-serving Brisbane boss also defended the club's recruitment-and-retention decisions and addressed claims relations with Broncos Old Boys,including former captain Gorden Tallis, are toxic.
After four consecutive losses, including a club-record 59-0 loss to the Roosters, Seibold is a coach under siege. The last two Broncos coaches to miss the finals - Ivan Henjak (in 2010) and Anthony Griffin (2013) - were eventually sacked.
Seibold's $3 million-plus, five-year package is the most scrutinised contract in the NRL. The final year of the deal is a 12-month option in the Broncos' favour. That means Seibold is contracted until at least the end of 2022.
Brisbane's historical stance shows they fire coaches who fail to make the finals. The Broncos enter round seven this week in the bottom four. Seibold will front the Broncos board this Friday, 24 hours before the Titans clash, but White says there is no high-level push to jettison him.
Asked if Seibold will be sacked if the Broncos miss the top eight this season, White was unequivocal.
"That question is nonsensical," White said.
"We are four games into the restart of the season. There are 14 games to go. To suggest that (sacking Seibold) is nonsense. Now is not the time to be discussing the coach's future. Now is the time for support. We are united as a club and that includes Anthony."
Since joining the Broncos from Souths as the reigning Dally M Coach of the Year, Seibold has won 13 of 31 games for a 41.9 per cent win record.
By comparison, Henjak won 27 of 51 matches at the Broncos for a 53 per cent success rate. Griffin won 54 of 101 games for 53.5 per cent. When Bennett, in his second stint at Red Hill, was sacked in 2018, he had won 67 of 105 games at 64 per cent.
Statistically, Seibold has the worst record of any coach in Broncos history, but White is adamant the 45-year-old has the skill set to deliver Brisbane's first premiership since 2006.
"Anthony is the right person for this job," he said.
"What I will say about Seibs is this - he has a tremendous work ethic and he has a real passion.
"'Seibs' hurts over our performances when our results aren't up to speed. I like the fact that Anthony does hurt.
"People have levelled criticism at Seibs over some of his comments in the media but I like his passion and his honesty.
"Anthony knows he has a long-term commitment with our club and that's not changing.
"Anthony is getting some scars at the moment and that's good. I've said this to him. Every coach gets wounds along the journey, but the wounds heal and they heal for a reason. Anthony has to cop his medicine now and he will.
"If you are going to give someone a challenge of building something for the future and we are building that roster, you have to take the noise away.
"We will do that right now. We are backing Anthony. I know he has the ingredients to be a great coach."
On Seibold's watch, the Broncos have suffered club-record defeats twice in the space of five games. First, the Broncos were flogged 58-0 by Parramatta in the finals last September. Then came the Roosters horror show in round four.
That performance prompted club founder Barry Maranta to claim the Broncos are no longer the club he helped build, but White disagrees.
"No, there is no cultural issue," he said.
"You don't want your lows to be 59-0, but I am not concerned about our culture. This season (with the challenges of the COVID-19 pandemic) has been extraordinary for everyone.
"There's not much motivation for a CEO if a club is just wins and losses. I want a Broncos club that has integrity around care and respect for people as a primacy for what we do and we do that.
"I'm hurting at the moment. We started the year well with two wins but unfortunately we haven't recovered well since the competition recommenced.
"There is not a single person in our club today who wouldn't disagree with the criticism. We are bleeding. I want the fans and our members to know we care - and that's why I expect the side to show something against the Titans this week."
The Broncos have been hammered in the past month by club greats who helped win six premierships. Tallis has been notably savage. But White scoffed at sentiments the club is at war with its finest servants.
"The talk about our Old Boys is overstated," he said.
"Yes, some are critical but we are always working with our Old Boys. We just brought Peter Ryan on (as a consultant) and we have five club captains who are employed by the Broncos.
"Name another NRL club that has five former club captains employed?
"We care for our Old Boys. I am working as hard as I can to make the club better. They are always welcome."
The Broncos have also copped brickbats for signing Ben Te'o and Issac Luke in the past fortnight. They have a combined age of 66. Te'o hadn't played in the NRL for six years. Luke wasn't wanted by the Dragons.
"I challenge anyone who wants to criticise our recruitment to write down what our side will look like in 2023. Will our roster be a retirement home?" White said.
"Immediacy isn't everything. Yes, we have made some decisions to sign two veterans in Ben Te'o and Issac Luke. They are on minimum wage. Te'o is a great pro for our young players and Luke came here for family reasons.
"This roster will evolve into an experienced one. For every NRL club, the transfer market is fluid.
"If we are doing such a bad job, why do all the other clubs want to poach our players? We do an outstanding job with elite player development.
"We have a lot of talent in our organisation and playing group. They will get better. You can chart where we will be in three or four years time and that is a mark of good recruitment and retention."
The reality is no Broncos fan wants to wait another three years for premiership success. White agrees and has challenged the playing squad to uphold the Broncos' annual mandate of a top-four finish.
"I'm not saying hang in until 2023, but what people want to know is that they can turn up to the footy knowing they have a team that will give a level of performance consistently," he said.
"We are working towards that.
"Look at the Storm. They built success around Cameron Smith, Billy Slater and Cooper Cronk and that's what we want to build here. We are certainly not there yet, I know that, but with the group of young players we have together, I believe we can have success in the future.
"A premiership is the ultimate. It has such a positive impact on many people at a club. I would love it for all the Broncos people who have gone through thick and thin with our club. But you don't just set a target in place without knowing the steps you have to take to get there.
"It's vital our players learn and grow, because you don't win comps on potential. You win comps on performance. We want to win premierships and I still believe this group will.
"It's all about the totality of the club and that's what makes the Broncos great."
Originally published as White: Time to sack Seibold? Don't talk nonsense