Bennett erupts in savage Broncos, Seibold spray
Wayne Bennett has taken aim at Brisbane coach Anthony Seibold and chairman Karl Morris, blasting claims he left the club in need of a rebuild and questioning his successor's ability to get the best out of Broncos players.
Breaking an 18-month silence on the state of the Broncos, Bennett vowed to defend his reputation, saying he would not be blamed for Brisbane's free fall under Seibold, the man who replaced him at Red Hill last year.
The Broncos crashed to 15th in the wake of last Saturday's 30-12 debacle against the Titans but Morris revealed Seibold would not be sacked, claiming the Brisbane coach needed time to rebuild the roster Bennett left behind.
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Morris added: "When Anthony arrived in 2018, he brought it up as an issue that it's going to be a tough two or three years because of the nature of our roster and the youth in the club."
But Bennett has hit back, slamming Morris' appraisal as "smoke-and-mirrors" and turning up the heat on Seibold, pointing out the struggling Broncos coach has a team full of Origin and Test stars.
Bennett, now at South Sydney, was sacked in 2018 with a 64 per cent win record. Seibold's current win ratio is 40 per cent.
"It was my intention to remain silent, but if the Brisbane chairman or any other person at the Broncos wants to make false assertions, I will set the record straight," Bennett said.
"Assertions have been made as to the quality of the roster and the state I left the club in.
"I was prepared to coach there in 2019 and 2020 with the roster that we had at the time and I don't think anybody in the game didn't think we could be a top-four side.
"I'm correcting the record here. The chairman must be oblivious to the running of the club.
"If the roster was so bad, why would Anthony Seibold take the job?
"Seibold took South Sydney to a preliminary final in 2018 (before joining the Broncos). I have no doubt he thought he could win a premiership with this Broncos roster. No coach, particularly a young one, would take a job with an inferior roster to the one he is leaving. You just don't do that.
"I did not coach or have a rundown football team at the Broncos."
Bennett then listed the galaxy of players with grand final and representative experience at Seibold's disposal.
"Let's look at their current roster," he said.
"Jamayne Isaako is a New Zealand Test player. Corey Oates is a Queensland player. Xavier
Coates is a PNG Test player. Darius Boyd is a former Origin and Test player. Anthony Milford is an Origin player. Kotoni Staggs is a future NSW Origin player. Matt Lodge is a good NRL prop. David Fifita and Joe Ofahengaue are Queensland Origin players. Payne Haas made his debut for NSW last year. Jordan Kahu and Alex Glenn have played Test football for New Zealand and been in a grand final. Tevita Pangai Jr and Tesi Niu have played Test football for Tonga.
"Seibold has 12 players with Origin or Test experience.
"What are we talking here? We are being lost in the smoke-and-mirrors.
"There is a lot of talent there under Seibold but no-one is playing to their talent."
Bennett has been pilloried for signing Jack Bird and Boyd to combined deals of $1.7 million but the former Broncos coach says not once did he construct Brisbane's roster without official input from several club figures.
"The recruiting in my time there was never handled solely by me," he said.
"We had a recruitment-and-retention committee and it included four people - Darren Lockyer (board member), Peter Nolan (recruitment chief), Paul White (CEO) and myself.
"It was unanimous decision that Darius would stay on. I never did the Darius contract extension. I didn't speak to Darius' manager George Mimis through the whole process. Paul White handled Darius' deal.
"There was no player that was signed or discussed that did not involve the committee all being consulted.
"I never recruited a single player myself without seeking the approval of the committee. I never negotiated a single contract with a player, that was left to Paul White and Peter Nolan.
"On most occasions, I was not even aware of the exact contract details for a player. I was aware of a general figure but in negotiations that figure can change once the deal is finally signed.
"I can't recall any moment where we didn't have unanimous agreement on a player."
Originally published as Bennett erupts in savage Broncos, Seibold spray