Like MacArthur, General Bennett is returning — but should he?
Once Nathan Tinkler imploded it was always inevitable that Wayne Bennett would leave. With his departure from the Knights, speculation immediately began as to his whereabouts next year. The Broncos were never far from any discussion.
Wayne’s silence only fuelled more talk and insecurity. That was laid to rest with the news that he was indeed returning to the Broncos. The (very) mixed response was perhaps not what either he or the board anticipated.
Anthony Griffin had one year remaining on his contract but that was never a major stumbling block. What mattered most is what Wayne wanted. Given the last three years at The Knights that’s a little surprising. He leaves a club in disarray and returns to one that looked to be coming along nicely.
I am not alone in admiring and respecting his record and talent but neither am I a solo voice in being cautious about his return to Red Hill. A large number of loyal fans and several influential people around the club share that view. Recent public comments by Corey Parker and Justin Hodges signal player support for the incumbent is strong. Their dignified backing of Griffin was aimed directly at those who would have the final word. It wasn’t enough and Wayne will know he has work to do.
His reputation only goes so far and, rightly or wrongly he is increasingly perceived as caring first and foremost about Wayne. Nothing wrong with that ( to a point ) but in a game where coaches talk much about the concept of team you can understand possible difficulties.
Respect and loyalty are qualities on which Wayne places a premium and that currency might be just a little diminished.
Life moves relentlessly forward and it seems a retrograde step to look to the past for tomorrow’s answers. Anthony Griffin was subject to concerted media speculation, much of which questioned his performance. This was somewhat unfair given that the club has on occasions played superbly and remains a chance in an open competition where consistency has been in short supply. Not least at The Knights.
Sure, the Broncos have lost some close games this year, but who hasn’t?
Griffin has also improved some younger ( and older) players and is entitled to feel aggrieved. In his forthright but understated way, he made no secret of his feelings at the press conference called to announce his departure. His disappointment was clear and you sensed it was not totally based on what had happened to him but, more tellingly, was a reflection of his sadness at the behaviour of a club from which he’d expected more.
Frankly, there was no need for Brisbane to panic. At the start of the year they were most likely to finish bottom half of the top eight and they could still surprise on the upside.
Personally, I wish Anthony Griffin well for the rest of the season.
He knew when taking the job that Wayne Bennett cast a giant shadow. It would’ve been nice to see it disappear that he might enjoy his own time in the sun.
Instead, it sets just as the team threatens to rise.