After a week of negative attention placed on their club the Penrith Panthers will be happy to see the media attention shift north to the Brisbane Broncos.
During the week the reported rift between the Broncos board and super coach Wayne Bennett seems to have widened. Reports indicated that Bennett and captain Darius Boyd skipped an event hosted by Broncos big wigs in a protest of sorts against the potential moving on of Bennett at the end of the season.
Reports differentiate as to the number of players at each event but the majority of reports indicate that the players used this is a chance to show solidarity to their mentor and coach.
The entire situation has been blasted across social media as a huge beat up although there could be some very serious ramifications to eventuate from BBQ-gate 2018.
Brisbane look set to move Bennett on at the end of the season despite having a year to run on his current contract. The Panthers are looking for a new head coach while there are reports that both Manly and possibly even the Dragons will be looking for new leaders in 2019 and beyond.
Bennett, despite his Broncos team being in a real struggle to play finals footy in 2018, will surely have no shortage of potential destinations should his current club opt for a fresh change.
That said, given the way has developed and recent events involving Bennett beg the question; is Bennett’s recruitment really worth all the drama?
I hear those yelling from behind their laptops of phones right now: “He has six premierships, ARE YOU MAD!?”
Hear me out …
The current Broncos outfit is one stacked with a ridiculous amount of talent. It is a side that has been build by Bennett. This is also a side that is flat chat just trying to make the finals and doesn’t look like a side that can deliver a premiership.
Prized recruit Jack Bird was thrown around multiple positions, never settled and as a result was never allowed to produce his best footy. He is now injured and out for the season. Bennett green lit a move for Bird yet cried foul a after supposed secret injuries were revealed.
Mind you everyone in the NRL community knew Bird came with injury troubles. He won a grand final with one arm at the Sharks. 2018 Jack Bird was a shell of his 2017 and 2016 self.
Bennett also allowed Ben Hunt to walk away and put his trust into a halve’s combination that seems too alike to push for a title. I’m loathe to bag either Milford or Nikorima as they’re both wonderful players but with a two point lead and ten minutes to go, who steers them home? Who dictates the game with the boot? Your guess is as good as mine.
Bennett may have won a title at the Dragons but the mess he left Newcastle in should be attached to his legacy.
In no way was he solely responsible given the off-field dramas Nathan Tinkler created for him, but the fact remains the Knights are only starting to rebuild now in 2018.
Bennett recruited and back ended contracts for players well past their peak. He left that roster a right mess. Even the biggest Bennett fan cannot deny the damage he did on the Hunter. Then he simply threw his hands up, said too hard and walked away.
Of course we’ll never know but I’m pretty confident in saying the Knights weren’t going to win a title under Bennett despite the resourced he was initially handed.
Penrith have a roster capable of winning a title. Bennett would not need to recruit. Nathan Cleary still has the time left on his contract to deliver a premiership regardless of whether or not he decides to join his Dad at the Tigers.
They have it all, all across the park. Bennett’s best asset has always been getting the most out of his players.
With all due respect to the Dragons side he took to a title, Soward and Horny probably don’t hold the same reputation and talent as Cleary and Maloney.
The Panthers need to make the right choice or risk wasting their very open premiership window. After all the reason they sacked Griffin was as they didn’t see him as being able to win a premiership.
Perhaps in that regard Bennett would be worth the risk of drama.
That said, with Bennett would come Boyd, and I’m not sure Boyd makes that run on Panthers side right now. Maybe at centre but I’d take the Panthers back five over Boyd.
With Bennett also comes media scrutiny and attention. Bennett is always at the forefront of controversial issues due to his standing in the game. His press conferences can be anything from dead boring to absolutely ridiculous.
Then there’s the matter of whether he and Gould can work together.
Yikes! I’m not sure the Panthers need that weekly distraction in their bid to lift a first title since Luke Lewis played on the wing.
Manly probably don’t have the money to be a player in this discussion but the last thing they need is a big money investment to bring more controversy to the club.
I’m not sure Bennett, for all his amazing attributes and success, is worth the drama right now.