Wayne Bennett with Craig Bellamy during their time together at the Broncos.
Wayne Bennett with Craig Bellamy during their time together at the Broncos.

Two NRL rivals chasing Bennett

WAYNE Bennett insists he and Craig Bellamy cannot work as a package deal at the Broncos as the Brisbane supercoach revealed he has been sounded out by two rival NRL clubs.

On the eve of his 800th game as an NRL coach against Parramatta on Thursday night, Bennett scuppered suggestions he and his former assistant Bellamy could reunite as co-coaches at the Broncos next season.

The Broncos have discussed a massive $5.6 million deal with Bellamy, but one potential impediment is timing the Storm coach's possible shift to Brisbane with Bennett's exit from Red Hill.

 

Bellamy is off-contract this season, while Bennett is contracted to Brisbane until the end of 2019.

With Brisbane CEO Paul White insisting the club will honour Bennett's deal, it means Bellamy could not ostensibly coach the Broncos until at least 2020.

One scenario is for Bellamy to join forces with Bennett at Red Hill next season with a view to taking full control the following year, but the Broncos coach says the pair can simply not work together.

"That's not going to happen, that (a Bennett-Bellamy Broncos alliance) won't happen," said Bennett, who hired Bellamy as his assistant in 1998.

"It's just not practical. It sounds good in theory but it won't work in practice.

"I still want to coach and he wants to coach. What do we do ... you take the backs, I take the forwards?

"The difficulty is Craig (if he accepted a Broncos deal) would have to sit out a year and no club will sign him for one year.

Craig Bellamy was an assistant under Bennett.
Craig Bellamy was an assistant under Bennett.

"Melbourne won't sign Craig to a one-year deal (for 2019), they won't do that."

While Bellamy has options, so, too, it seems, does Bennett.

The 68-year-old dropped a bombshell of his own following Brisbane's captain's run, revealing he has fielded expressions of interest.

It is understood one Sydney-based club and one out-of-Sydney NRL rival has contacted Bennett, who at this stage is keen to coach beyond his 70th birthday in 2020.

"I will consider another club," Bennett said.

"At the end of the day, I don't want to (go elsewhere) but if that happens, I will consider that.

"I've already had a couple of offers, so the door isn't closed on me (coaching on in the NRL).

"I've had a couple of clubs ring me up in the last few weeks, they let me know they are interested and you have to make a decision."

Bennett, who turns 69 in January, will make a definitive call on whether he retires early next season. He hasn't ruled out asking the Broncos board for another contract if they fail to come to terms with Bellamy.

"I think it will unfold early next year, that would be an appropriate time for me (to finalise his future)," he said.

Who will Brisbane choose, Bennett or Bellamy?
Who will Brisbane choose, Bennett or Bellamy?

"I have to make sure I'm in good health. I'm not getting any sillier with coaching, it's a job you continually learn from and I've been good enough to take the position that I don't know everything.

"I will ask for another deal if I'm in good shape.

"I've let a lot of players go over the years because I thought their careers were coming towards the end and I have to make that decision about me.

"There's no one who will be more honest about me than me. No one knows me better than me. I won't lie to myself, I never have and I won't do it now because I would be jeopardising careers here and people's employment and it won't happen on my watch.

"Whatever coach comes here, I will be supportive of him, I won't be anti-him. The club comes first for me and it's bigger than me and everybody else.

"I'm not going to change now in the twilight of my career.

"I've always put the club before me."



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