Wayne Bennett reveals how Broncos lured him back
MASTER coach Wayne Bennett has revealed Brisbane approached him about returning to coach the Broncos as he was contemplating offers from several other NRL clubs.
As debate raged about the wisdom of bringing Bennett back home at aged 64 and whether he was the same coach who has won a record seven premierships - the latest with the Dragons in 2010 - the man himself cleared the air about how things unfolded in statement released by the Newcastle Knights today.
"As I was deciding on my future, the Brisbane Broncos weren't in the equation until the board recently contacted me,'' Bennett said this morning, 24 hours after Brisbane confirmed it was terminating coach Anthony Griffin's contract a year early.
"I never thought I would be presented with the opportunity to return home and I appreciate the confidence the board and owners have shown in me.
"I am also extremely humbled by the coaching offers I received.
"There has been much speculation and untruths written since I announced I was departing the Newcastle Knights.
"I look forward to a successful relationship with CEO Paul White and continuing to grow and strengthen the Broncos' brand when I join the club for season 2015.
"When I announced I was leaving Newcastle at season's end, I stated I was committed to the club and nothing has changed.
"I will be making no further comment in relation to my future until season 2014 has concluded for both the Knights and Broncos."
Brisbane's board decided recently it wanted Bennett, who built the club, created its culture and won them six premierships, back at Red Hill next year.
They had concerns that after two average years on the field and some off-field dramas, including a salary cap investigation which is still ongoing and which led the football operations manager Andrew Gee walking out the door a few months ago, that they needed someone strong to right the ship.
The massive interest in Bennett once he confirmed he would not coach Newcastle next year suggests NRL club bosses don't think he is past his use by date just yet.
The Broncos were once was an NRL powerhouse under Bennett.
Top-flight players wanted to be coached by him.
They lined up to sign contracts for a lot less than they could get at other cashed-up clubs. They all wanted to play for him, He had a reputation for improving players, may of whom found their way into representative jumpers.
But that was almost a decade ago and times have change.
There are obvious questions being asked as to whether Bennett can take the club back to its glory days in three years.
Not everyone agrees with the board, some former players like Gorden Tallis and even Darren Lockyer have questioned the decision to go back to the past by bringing Bennett home and whether Brisbane would have been better off just moving on.
Long-time supporter and its biggest shareholder, Chris Murphy, who owns 20 percent of the Broncos, a publicly listed company on the Stock Exchange, has expressed his disgust and anger at the board dumping Griffin without informing him.
He was bitterly disappointed when Gee was let go recently.
And now he's so annoyed he wasn't told about Griffin getting the chop he's considering off-loading his 20 per interest in the Broncos worth around $4 million.
Right now opinion is divided about the pending return of Messiah Bennett.
But the bottom line for Brisbane is they had to do something quickly with the club's image and aura both on the slide.
Bennett may be 10 years older than when he took Brisbane to its last premiership win against Melbourne in 2006, but he still has what it takes to win.
Critics, who claim he failed at Newcastle forget he won a premiership just three years ago with a team that could not get across the line before.
Last year he took the Knights to the prelimary final - the club's best finish in 12 seasons.
Griffin's Broncos finished 12th - the club's worst result in 26 years.
Given the injuries and others issues that beset Newcastle this season Bennett recorded his worst year by his standards as a coach to the point where he admitted he was embarrassed.
No doubt about it, Bennett has put himself in the firing line taking on the toughest job in the NRL when he probably could have taken an easier option.
Some say the next three years at the Broncos will define him as a coach and if he fails to deliver them a seventh premiership it will take the gloss of his coaching career.
That is disrespectful to Bennett and what he had already achieved.
The Broncos are Bennett's DNA.
He will do all he can to make sure, as he did when he was head-hunted by foundation chairman Paul Morgan in 1987, that when his time is finally up, he leaves the club in a much stronger position than when he came back.