‘Will never be the same again’: Wayne Bennett knew the Broncos were screwed all the way back in 2007August 5, 2020
BY CURTIS WOODWARD
Wayne Bennett sits ever so uncomfortable as he tells the Brisbane Broncos story. It’s the 2007 DVD – ’The Story So Far’ – a club-made presentation of all the great things the powerhouse of the NRL had achieved since coming into the competition in 1988.
The Broncos were, of course, coming off the back of a premiership win in 2006.
At that time, the Broncos had won six premierships in their 20 seasons.
A mighty organisation – a juggernaut.
The women wanted them and all the other clubs wanted to be them.
They were untouchable.
So Bennett sits askew – his mouth much the same.
For the most part he spouts off one-liners and all beautiful things every Broncos fan wants to hear about the future.
But there’s a chink in the Bennett armour.
He doesn’t believe what he’s saying.
At one point he commends the legendary Glenn Lazarus and his ”passing of the baton” to Shane Webcke and Petero and in Wayne’s own words, he names Dave Taylor as heir to the throne.
Not long earlier, Bennett had been in secret discussions with Nick Politis and the Sydney Roosters. Imagine if you can, how big that story was at the time.
The almighty Wayne Bennett coaching in Sydney.
Phil Gould was still working for the Roosters in September of 2006 when he wrote this for The Sydney Morning Herald.
”Left hand on the Bible, right hand raised. Here’s the whole truth and nothing but the truth. Wayne Bennett sat down with chairman Nick Politis about six weeks ago and agreed to coach the Sydney Roosters,” Gould began.
”Everything was fine until Thursday evening, when Bennett informed the club he was no longer coming. His explanation for this change of heart appears inadequate given the enthusiasm he’d shown for our club and the degree of work already undertaken to prepare for his arrival.
”To say this has been a massive disappointment is an understatement.”
Bennett was dirty that the secret meetings had gotten out.
He pulled the pin.
One of Bennett’s mentors was the great Jack Gibson.
Gibson was successful at more than one club and Bennett wanted to do the same.
Eventually Bennett showed up at the Dragons and 2010 is history.
Bennett knew time had caught up to the Broncos by the time he sat in that chair for the club DVD in 2007.
No longer did the Broncos have the pick of any talent they wanted in Queensland.
After all, the best players in the Sunshine State at the time were locked up with the Melbourne Storm in Cameron Smith, Billy Slater, Cooper Cronk, Greg Inglis and Israel Folau.
Johnathan Thurston was a Cowboy for life.
It just wasn’t the same.
Your writer vividly remembers when the Broncos signed Penrith Panthers prop Joel Clinton for the 2008 season and thinking that this wasn’t an acquisition the club would’ve made in the past, and that is with all due respect to Clinton, but he was simply passed his prime.
The 2006 premiership-winning Broncos squad eroded and shortly after, they brought in the the likes of PJ Marsh, Ashton Sims and Clinton.
Brent Tate went to the Warriors, Shaun Berrigan and Dane Carlaw to England, Petero headed to Penrith and Brad Thorn to Super Rugby.
And Brisbane would never again be able to gorge on its own reputation.
Time was up.
Brisbane’s administration also announced financial losses in 2007 – something they weren’t used to.
At the end of ’07, Bennett was awarded life membership by the Broncos. He stepped on stage, accepted the award and walked off again without saying a word.
Relationships weren’t strained – they were already pulverised.
The 1990’s and 2000’s are a distant memory for the Broncos.
There’s little doubt that the Broncos shouldn’t be where they are in 2020 but it doesn’t help that they will forever be in the shadow of a golden era they simply won’t be able to attain again.
There’s also the Bennett factor.
Brisbane still boast some of the best young forwards in the NRL.
But they also don’t have the super coach to sprinkle a bit of that magic, either.
The Broncos as we once knew them are dead.
And it will never be the same again.