Bennett return to help out Walters
WAYNE Bennett is open to the prospect of a stunning return to the Broncos as a coaching director — just two years after his bitter civil war with club bosses.
The Sunday Telegraph can reveal Bennett has not closed the door on the Broncos, a club he helped build and would entertain a comeback to preside over a regeneration program after the downfall of his successor, Anthony Seibold.
The revelation comes as former Broncos skipper Justin Hodges called for Bennett to return for a third tenure at Red Hill in a ‘dream team’ reunion with Brisbane coaching aspirant Kevin Walters.
Bennett joined Souths last year after a toxic fallout with Brisbane chief executive Paul White, but the CEO’s impending departure in October will remove one obstacle in a push for the super coach to spearhead a cultural overhaul of the Broncos.
A non-negotiable of Bennett’s return is there are changes to Brisbane’s board.
Broncos chairman Karl Morris has the full support of the club’s majority owners News Corp. Whether Bennett and Morris can work together again is debatable, but Hodges urged Brisbane hierarchy to smoke the peace pipe with their foundation coach.
“I would love to see Wayne come back,” said Hodges, Bennett’s captain in Brisbane’s 2015 grand-final appearance.
“You only have to see what he has done for the Broncos, he is the only premiership coach Brisbane have had.
“To get the glory days back, I think Wayne is the perfect coaching director.
“He knows the culture of the Broncos better than anyone.” Bennett declined to comment on Saturday but the 70-year-old is not ready for retirement when his Rabbitohs contract expires at the end of next season.
Souths have already anointed Jason Demetriou as Bennett’s successor in 2022 and the Rabbitohs would be prepared to accelerate his blooding as head coach by 12 months if Bennett secured a longer-term opportunity at another club.
That stance makes Bennett a viable option for the Broncos. Given the tumult of his exit, any notion of Bennett returning would be controversial but the seven-time premiership winner believes he can make a contribution.
Under Bennett’s Broncos succession plan in 2018, he was prepared to move into an overseer role to support Demetriou and he would be ready to do the same if Brisbane bosses installed Walters as coach in 2021.
The Bennett-Walters alliance steered Brisbane to the 2015 grand final where they lost to the Cowboys. As a player-coach combination, Walters and Bennett won five Broncos premierships between 1992-2000 and understand every cultural nuance of Queensland’s flagship sporting club.
“Having Wayne back will give the Broncos that authority,’’ Hodges said. “He is the master of keeping players and making them happy. As a young kid, all I wanted to was play for the Broncos but now young kids want to play for Melbourne or the Roosters.
“The big thing with Wayne is his ability to care for the player. He just doesn’t see you as a football player, he likes to get to know you as a person and what makes you tick, what your passion is.’’