Wayne Bennett's history with the Broncos is not all rosy.
Wayne Bennett's history with the Broncos is not all rosy. DEAN LEWINS

Durkin: History behind Bennett's trust issues revealed

THERE is no particular axe for me to grind - not for Wayne Bennett, not for the Broncos. But, ahead of Thursday night's NRL blockbuster between the Broncos and Rabbitohs, the air needs to be cleared on the critical issue of trust.

For the past five days a fascinating expose on why Bennett is no longer Broncos coach has appeared in The Courier Mail.

Enlightening and well written, the five-part series delves deep into the machinations of the power play which evolved at Brisbane's Red Hill during much of last season.

Basically, the many thousands of words written précis a virtual soap opera involving a legendary and hugely successful coach - in the red corner - believing he had a rite of passage to coach at the Broncos for as long as he wanted.

In the blue corner was a management team keen to move forward following an unprecedented 12-year premiership drought.

While what was compiled in the five-part series made fascinating reading for the rugby league-loving public, to someone who has been employed by the club since 1992 one word used - trust - particularly engaged me.

Bennett believed Queenslanders trusted the Broncos, just as he trusted his bosses and they trusted him.

But, he added, as the drama came to an unhappy end, he had lost his trust in the Broncos establishment.

 

Bennett was critical of the Broncos and CEO Paul White. Picture: Peter Wallis
Bennett was critical of the Broncos and CEO Paul White. Picture: Peter Wallis

And while that fact was unequivocal, the veteran coach would no doubt be well aware that trust - like loyalty - is a two-way street. If accepted, these values must be also be returned.

When Bennett speaks of trust, he surely could not have overlooked his cloak-and-dagger attempt to flee the club back in 2006, ironically the year the Broncos won their last premiership.

Being the club's communications manager at the time, I most certainly have not forgotten what transpired.

The morning after the Broncos had thrashed Newcastle 50-6 in the semi-final, an article written by Phil Gould appeared in Sydney's Sun Herald, claiming Bennett had agreed to coach the Roosters the following season.

The major proviso, however, was the deal was to be kept secret until the Broncos' season was over. Following yet another horrendous post-Origin period in which the Broncos lost five successive matches, they were at long odds to win the premiership.

Phil Gould revealed Bennett had agreed to a deal to coach the Roosters.
Phil Gould revealed Bennett had agreed to a deal to coach the Roosters.

Nervous that he would be shown the door, Bennett was evidently keen to shore up his career and began some covert manoeuvres.

In his column Gould had exposed this audacious plan by the Roosters to secure Bennett, and detailed discussions between the Broncos coach and Roosters supremo Nick Politis.

He also wrote that by pulling the pin Bennett had left the Roosters - who had sacked Ricky Stuart - high and dry.

But what of the Broncos? When was Bennett going to inform his own employers that he was leaving? The day after the grand final victory perhaps? Giving them just a few months to find a replacement.

Understandably, Broncos management and board of directors were miffed when they learnt of Bennett's planned departure, yet they forgave him.

And even after he departed for his six-year sojourn to the Dragons and then the Knights, the club invited him back.

In the The Courier Mail's five-part series Bennett branded the Broncos' hierarchy 'gutless bastards' for - as he put it - wheeling and dealing behind his back.

An interesting claim in view of what occurred back in 2006.