Bennett needs to decide how he leaves the club he built
Bennett needs to decide how he leaves the club he built

How will Bennett play his last card?

WAYNE Bennett has a huge question to answer. Does he want to leave the Broncos a saint or a sook?

The intricate game of brinkmanship between Bennett and the Broncos took yet another twist with the Broncos confirming they wanted Bennett to fulfil the last year of his coaching contract next year before offering him a backroom position for 2020, a role he was never going to accept.

The Broncos board has told Bennett if he stays next year they want to make the season all about him and celebrate his three-decade association with the club.

Your move, Wayne. (AAP Image/Albert Perez)
Your move, Wayne. (AAP Image/Albert Perez)


It's a clever card to play because it effectively drops an olive branch on the table and nothing looks worse than the sight of an angry man snapping an olive branch over his knee.

For the past month there has been the sense that Bennett, emboldened by the knowledge he has an iron-clad contract next year, has been controlling the power play in the cold war with the board, almost daring them to sack him.

The power has shifted now.

The ball has landed back in Bennett's court and it's a high-bouncing topspinner which will be very awkward to play.

Does Bennett stay next year knowing that it's all over come next September or does he leave next month in search of a longer deal elsewhere?

Perversely, the fact that the board has not sacked Bennett is a setback of sorts to him.

Had they paid out his contract and let him get a job elsewhere he could have not simply had his cake and eaten it but won the right to play the scorned victim.

But the offer of a "Bye Bye Benny'' year nullifies any suggestions he is being mistreated.

He is now the one who will have to initiate any separation and any such move would tarnish his legacy at the club.


Maguire’s qualities could give the Broncos more rigour. (Hannah Peters/Getty Images)
Maguire’s qualities could give the Broncos more rigour. (Hannah Peters/Getty Images)


Given that he has not been offered an extended deal at the Broncos, Bennett could be hugely tempted to rejoin the Dragons on a multi-year contract at the seasons end.

But that now becomes a complex negotiation due to the fact that it would involved two broken contracts - Bennett at the Broncos and Paul McGregor at the Dragons who would be moved in and moved out with a year left on their deals.

The choice of Michael Maguire as the Broncos top priority is an interesting one.

He did well to squeeze a premiership out of South Sydney but the vibe of some Souths players I have spoken to was that he ended up burning them to a crisp and was too intense for his own good.

But the two qualities no one disputes about him is his love of structure - which a reckless Broncos team could need - and a desire to ensure his players are fit for battle, an increasingly major issue at the Broncos.

The joint needs a rocket and he might be the man to do it.

The sad postscript to this story is that if Maguire gets the job it will almost certainly mean Kevin Walters will never coach the Broncos.

Part of the prerequisite for the job was that the new coach had won a premiership which seems extremely harsh on Walters who has coached Queensland to two State of Origin series wins.

No mug coach could do that, particularly in an era of such major generation change.

It would be a major blow for Walters but the landscape is changing by the day as he sits, watches and waits.

The only certain thing in rugby league, circa 2018, is continued uncertainty.