Broncos coach Wayne Bennett looks on during a post match press conference following the Round 20 NRL match between the Brisbane Broncos and the Cronulla-Sutherland Sharks at Suncorp Stadium in Brisbane, Thursday, July 26, 2018. (AAP Image/Dave Hunt) NO ARCHIVING, EDITORIAL USE ONLY
Broncos coach Wayne Bennett looks on during a post match press conference following the Round 20 NRL match between the Brisbane Broncos and the Cronulla-Sutherland Sharks at Suncorp Stadium in Brisbane, Thursday, July 26, 2018. (AAP Image/Dave Hunt) NO ARCHIVING, EDITORIAL USE ONLY

Lockyer the man to solve Bennett, Broncos standoff

BRONCOS founding father Barry Maranta has warned Brisbane powerbrokers not to punt Wayne Bennett without securing a better replacement and called on club legend Darren Lockyer to play peacemaker in the bitter standoff.

Bennett's future threatens to overshadow Brisbane's late-season premiership surge after relations between the Broncos supercoach and club management turned sour last week.

A seven-time NRL premiership winner, Bennett used his pre-match press conference to turn up the heat on Broncos CEO Paul White and chairman Karl Morris to address his contract stalemate.

Bennett, 68, is off contract at the end of 2019 and has requested a one-year extension which would see him coach beyond his 70th birthday.

The Broncos failed in a bid to poach Melbourne Storm supercoach Craig Bellamy and also made discreet inquiries about North Queensland mentor Paul Green's future before he recommitted to the Cowboys.

The Broncos have been linked to rising Rabbitohs coach Anthony Seibold, whose decision to baulk at signing an extension at South Sydney beyond next year has fuelled speculation he could return to Queensland.

Maranta, one of the four founding fathers of the Broncos, appointed Bennett in Brisbane's first season in 1988.

Former Brisbane captain, now board member, Darren Lockyer and coach Wayne Bennett. Picture: Getty Images
Former Brisbane captain, now board member, Darren Lockyer and coach Wayne Bennett. Picture: Getty Images

Bennett has guided the Broncos to all six of the club's premierships and Maranta said it would be silly to punt him without having a quality replacement guaranteed.

"When you drop someone from a team you put someone in that's better," Maranta said.

"That's the issue that comes to mind. I don't know who else they've got to replace him.

"The moment you talk about any change the first thing is whether the change can be for the better.

"I'm sure if the board was going to get rid of him they would have thought hard and fast that they've got someone better. It's a bit more than 'let's get rid of Wayne'."

The Bennett dilemma has raised the question of what sort of exit the club's most successful coach deserves.

Bennett has been told the Broncos board will not discuss his contract request until the completion of the current season.

Wayne Bennett has asked for a contract extension. (AAP Image/Dave Hunt)
Wayne Bennett has asked for a contract extension. (AAP Image/Dave Hunt)

Maranta, Steve Williams and the late Paul "Porky" Morgan and Gary Balkin were the key figures in the Broncos' foundation in the late 1980s.

Maranta said the club's founders underwent an exhaustive process before appointing Bennett and the current board, of which Lockyer is a director, had to do the same.

"When we got Wayne we had four or five others that we researched very thoroughly," he said.

"It was Jack Gibson (former first grade coach) that pushed us towards Wayne.

"We did a hell of a lot of homework on that and I daresay a board doing its job should be doing its own homework so I can only assume that's what they've done.

"I do have faith in someone like Darren Lockyer. He's the sort of person that would have the sensitivities that this particular issue requires."

Bennett is desperate to exit the NRL on his own terms and could coach at another club if he is moved on by the Broncos after the 2019 season.

Maranta said Bennett's longevity was up there with the world's top coaches.

"It's one of those great success stories," he said.

"For him to stay in the business so long is the freakish thing. Not too many coaches go over 25 years.

"That requires a hell of a lot of tenacity from his point of view."

The Broncos can further strengthen their push for a top-four berth by beating the Bulldogs at ANZ Stadium on Thursday night.



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