Seibold led the South Sydney Rabbitohs to a preliminary final in his rookie season as an NRL coach in 2018. The Rabbitohs were looking to extend his contract as they moved towards securing the club’s second premiership of the decade, only for Seibold to accept the Broncos job instead.
Bennett is struggling to comprehend why Seibold would turn his back on South Sydney if he thought Brisbane’s roster required a rebuild.
“Anthony Seibold’s manager is Isaac Moses, who at the time had about 15 contracted players at the Broncos,” Bennett said.
“There’s no way that those two wouldn’t have discussed that playing group there. Anthony had a job at South Sydney but he still decided to take the job up there. If he thought he was going to an inferior football club, he wouldn’t have gone.
“South Sydney were in the preliminary final when he left. He was a young coach. No one made him leave there when he did, because I had been promised by the Broncos that I would be coaching there in ’19. The new coach wasn’t due to start there until 2020. He was well across what the Broncos situation was, and he chose to take the Broncos over South Sydney.
“I was very happy with that team that I was going to coach in ’19, and if I wanted out I had the opportunity to get out, but I didn’t want out because I believed in that team that was there. For the chairman to come out and suggest that I let the roster run down or whatever he was saying, is very insulting.”
The Broncos started the season with back-to-back victories, but haven’t won a game since the competition’s resumption a month ago.
Brisbane have lost to the Eels, Roosters, Sea Eagles, Knights and Titans in the last five rounds for an aggregate 170-42 defeat during that period.
The Broncos are missing a number of stars, including Kotoni Staggs and David Fifita, but there is still enough talent in a roster that has long been regarded for possessing the game’s most promising youngsters.
Since Bennett’s departure in 2018, the Broncos have lost Matt Gillett (retirement), Josh McGuire (Cowboys), Andrew McCullough (Knights), Kodi Nikorima (Warriors), Tom Opacic (Cowboys), James Roberts (Rabbitohs), Gehamat Shibasaki (Knights), Korbin Sims (Dragons), Jayden Su’a (Rabbitohs) and Sam Thaiday (retirement).
Seibold has since pointed out the lack of experience in his roster, but that’s largely due to the players he let go. Bennett has also been blamed for Darius Boyd’s lucrative long-term deal, but he insists he never decided on how much players would be paid.
“There was four of us on the panel there on the salary cap committee,” Bennett said.
“It was Paul White (chief executive), Darren Lockyer (board member), Peter Nolan (recruitment manager) and myself. Every player that went or left there, we all agreed or had discussions about it. I never did one deal with one player. Peter Nolan handled that with Paul White. In Darius Boyd’s case, Paul White did all that. But we all agreed Darius should stay and we all agreed on that.
“Most times I didn’t know what the players were getting. I had a round figure because you knew what the managers were asking for, but I never followed up what we ended up paying for them because we all wanted them at the club. They did the deals. That’s how it worked. I won’t take the criticism because I wasn’t working as a sole agent. I was working as part of a team of four blokes.”
Michael Chammas is a sports reporter with The Sydney Morning Herald