South Sydney Rabbitohs head coach Wayne Bennett insisted that he left Brisbane Broncos on his own terms, despite the club sacking him early.
England coach Bennett had agreed to switch jobs former Rabbitohs coach Anthony Seibold for the 2020 season, but on Sunday he was relieved of his duties early and the two made the switch earlier than expected, now linking up ahead of next season.
Unveiled as the new head coach of Rabbitohs in a press conference yesterday, Bennett explained how had met Russell Crowe during England duty in Denver, but no early move was discussed, and also dispelled a myth that he would be allowing members of his coaching staff to leave, with Rabbitohs general manager Shane Richardson ensuring the current staff are kept in place at the club.
Despite the surprise move, Bennett made it clear that he preferred the decision, and that he has no grudge against his former employers.
“I had to look in the mirror when I put the shirt on but it looked okay so I carried on, half-past 3 on Sunday afternoon was the first time I found out about it,” he explained.
“It was never part of the plans. I agreed to come here in 2020 and this was never on the agenda. There was a lot going on behind the scenes which never had my instigation.
“I’m pleased to be here and I’m pleased that I’ve come here on my terms in a sense that I didn’t ask to leave I was told to. Call it sacked whatever you want, it doesn’t worry me. I’ve got a clear conscience. I’m not here to discuss that, that can wait for another day. Do I look heartbroken? I didn’t get the chance to say goodbye to anyone but that’s fine, I’ll get over it. I was happy to be sacked, let’s leave it at that, I was happy.
“You guys will make a big deal of it (when we play against them next season) but it won’t be a big deal to me. My focus will be on playing well on the day, I’m not going to make it personal. It’s not personal for the players so I’m not going to drag my baggage into their lives. It will be a quality game of footy against the Broncos and we’ll do our best.”
This came after Bennett had declared that he would honour his contract with the Broncos for the 2019 season, hours before the Broncos had organised to unveil Seibold. But Bennett was told to leave the club, and the move was brought forward a year early as planned, but the 68-year-old initially intended on being with the Broncos next season. That prompted Seibold to take to the media to outlay his frustration with his counterpart regarding the personal effect it was having on his family.
“I’m sick of Wayne carrying on. I’ve bit my tongue and said nothing until now,” Seibold told News Corp. “I just want clarity and so do the players. I feel for the players at both clubs. It’s a joke.”
“I have had a gutful. I’ve been sitting here for four weeks and feeling like a punching bag. It’s not acceptable and it’s not fair. We’ve told the kids twice we’re moving and then twice that we’re staying. They’ve been in tears,” he said. “We’re trying to sort out their schools. It’s really taking its toll on them.”