Power struggle could be the end of Bennett
BRISBANE chief executive Paul White and coach Wayne Bennett's 34-year friendship has sensationally broken down and the ructions mean only one man will survive at the Broncos.
The Courier-Mail can reveal White and Bennett are barely on speaking terms, with the long-time buddies now having only a professional relationship at the Broncos.
Well-placed sources have described relations between White and Bennett, who first met at the Queensland Police Academy in 1984, as "strained".
When contacted by The Courier-Mail today, Bennett declined to elaborate at length on the bust-up but said: "We have a working relationship".
Those well-chosen words are a clear sign the pair's personal rapport has cracked under the strain of Brisbane's coaching saga.
Bennett is contracted to the Broncos until the end of 2019, but there is now the possibility the 68-year-old could be terminated at season's end.
Bennett is privately peeved at White for holding talks with Craig Bellamy without advising the Broncos coach.
Bennett had told White he could understand if the club viewed Bellamy as the future, but asked the CEO for the courtesy of telling him if he actually reached out to Bellamy. No courtesy was extended.
Bennett later found out through other sources that White had spoken to Bellamy, fuelling the coach's belief the CEO went behind his back.
White will argue he has every right, as chief executive, to ensure Brisbane's health by planning for the future.
Bennett has also been angered by White hosting his former wife Trish - with whom the coach split in 2016 after 42 years of marriage - at his corporate table at Broncos home games.
Adding to the tension, Bennett's daughter is also White's personal secretary.
There are now two distinct factions at the Broncos that are causing instability.
White and Broncos chairman Karl Morris believe it is time to enact a succession plan and want to move Bennett on for 2020, but the super coach has supporters on the board in Tony Joseph and Darren Lockyer.
New chairman Morris is not a traditional rugby league man, and isn't intimidated by the Bennett aura. Morris, a heavy-hitter who is executive chairman of $94 billion superannuation giant QSuper, would have no issue pulling the trigger on Bennett.
A powerplay has been brewing at the Broncos for some time.
White and Bennett are strong, ambitious personalities who like to call the shots. While the CEO heads the chain of command at the Broncos, there is a feeling Bennett, Brisbane's only premiership coach, really runs the show.
That will change at season's end when the Broncos board gathers for one of the most significant meetings in the club's 30-year history.
White and Morris are almost certain to part ways with Bennett, whose only hope of salvation is a Broncos premiership this season.
Bennett is determined to coach the Broncos in 2020 at the age of 70 and insists he will not be exceeding his expiry date.
"No one is going to be more honest with themselves than I have got to be," Bennett said.
"I have a huge responsibility as a coach for a whole lot of things within a club. I have never lied to myself, so I am not going to start now. I feel I know how long I can go on for.
"I am not going to stay a year too long. I am going to be like Billy Slater and go out at the top of my game, but it's not now.
"I want to be at the Broncos. I want to continue to coach. Everyone knows that, so let's see where it all goes."