Brisbane Broncos have terminated the contract with seven-time premiership-winning coach Wayne Bennett on Sunday, and announced Anthony Seibold as his replacement, ending the recent saga which has enveloped the club and South Sydney.
Bennett will not be at the helm in 2019 after weeks of intense scrutiny on him and the club after he was told his contract would not be renewed for the following season.
Bennett will join the Rabbitohs on what will now be a three-year contract, Souths confirmed on Sunday night.
“I’m really pleased it’s all resolved and that I can join this great club with a free mind, knowing I did the right thing by the fans, staff and players,” Bennett said.
“I’m really looking forward to being at South Sydney and working with the players, staff, Board and all of the members.
“It’s a wonderful club, South Sydney, and I feel privileged to have the chance to coach this team.”
He had signed to coach South Sydney in 2020 and Rabbitohs coach Anthony Seibold had signed to take over at the Broncos on a four-year deal, starting the same season. They will now immediately swap roles in the coming days after a tumultuous 48 hours.
“It’s a very tough decision, one we never saw coming,” Broncos CEO Paul White told reporters on Sunday.
“We no longer had faith that we could give ourselves the best chance of performing if we continued on the path we were continuing on.
“Players need clarity and consistency. We couldn’t afford to go through another week of what we went through last week, let alone for the rest of the pre-season.”
White said Bennett’s actions in the past week forced the club’s hand.
The Brisbane CEO said the club had been in discussions with South Sydney and all indications were that a coaching swap was about to occur, with Bennett’s knowledge.
“Right up until early Friday morning we’d had positive conversations with South Sydney and they had certainly indicated to us that everything was right to proceed,” White said.
“One of our directors was just finalising some issues with staff transition that Wayne wanted satisfied and we were in a position to do that.
“We were working to a position where there was a workable solution between us and South Sydney. South Sydney led the running on that. It was fair to say that once Wayne had accepted the role at South Sydney, there was always the possibility – some would have said the common sense solution – that this may happen.
“We believe that the discussions that Souths were having with Wayne and Karl [Morris] were at the point where a swap of coaches could be agreed to… we expected that to happen last Friday.”
White said the club was then blindsided when Bennett instead announced he intended to honour his 2019 contract, and added the Broncos were unaware the coach would attend training at Purtell Park on Friday morning.
“We were uninformed Wayne was attending training in the first place,” White said.
“We were uninformed about the press conference, its location and what was going to be said. Wayne had a very brief discussion with me just before he went down to the press conference [at Broncos HQ]. I wasn’t entirely satisfied with that discussion.”
Prior to White’s own press conference the Broncos released a statement on Sunday to say they had terminated Bennett’s contract with immediate effect.
“The terms of this termination are confidential. The Broncos thank him for his contribution to the club and wish him all the best in the future.
“The Broncos would like to thank members, sponsors, corporate partners, players and staff for their patience and understanding through this period of transition.”