Months of speculation are finally over after Brisbane confirmed next year will be foundation coach Wayne Bennett’s final NRL season at the Broncos, denying his request for a 2020 extension.
Bennett though has told the club he will see out his 2019 contract, finally ending rumours that the seven-time premiership winner would walk away prematurely.
“Having the decision made now puts an end to speculation and allows a clear focus on getting ready for next season,” Bennett said in a statement.
Bennett, 68, had reportedly tabled a proposal to retain the reins in 2020 before moving into a Broncos football director role the next year with current assistant Jason Demetriou as new head coach.
There was also speculation Bennett would be tempted to walk away next year if he was denied his request.
But Broncos chairman Karl Morris said on Tuesday he and Bennett had agreed that the master coach would see out his current contract to the end of 2019.
Next year will be Bennett’s 26th at the Broncos helm.
“The club will work through a thorough process, led by CEO Paul White, to identify and select a coach for the 2020 season and beyond,” Morris said.
The announcement calls a truce between Bennett and the Broncos board.
They fell out this year after Bennett criticised the club for what he believed was a lack of a clear succession plan.
Bennett admitted the constant speculation about his future had affected his team, which finished sixth and was thrashed 48-18 by St George Illawarra at home in their elimination final.
Broncos boss White said the NRL club was in “no rush” to find a replacement for the man who has masterminded all six of the club’s premierships.
“We are in no rush to find the next coach of this club and we have been clear on that for the past year,” White said.
“We have a process and we will work through that to get the best result.”
South Sydney’s Anthony Seibold had been linked to Brisbane who had missed out on Melbourne coach Craig Bellamy and reportedly made a play for North Queensland mentor Paul Green.