Wayne Bennett has hit back at claims he left Brisbane in need of a rebuild and questioned Anthony Seibold’s ability to get the best out of the NRL’s struggling Broncos.
The most successful coach in premiership history on Tuesday broke his 18-month silence on the state of the Broncos after being dramatically sacked following the 2018 season by the club he’d guided to seven titles in 14 years.
The 70-year-old was livid after Broncos chairman Karl Morris on Sunday effectively blamed Bennett for the problems his successor Anthony Seibold finds himself in following five straight defeats since the competition’s resumption from the COVID-19 shutdown.
“We always thought it was going to take two years for (Seibold) to sort out the issues he was inheriting,” Morris told Nine Media.
It prompted a fierce counter-attack from Bennett.
“It was my intention to remain silent, but if the Brisbane chairman or any other person at the Broncos wants to make false assertions, I will set the record straight,” Bennett told News Corp.
“Assertions have been made as to the quality of the roster and the state I left the club in.
“I was prepared to coach there in 2019 and 2020 with the roster that we had at the time and I don’t think anybody in the game didn’t think we could be a top-four side.
“I’m correcting the record here. The chairman must be oblivious to the running of the club – if the roster was so bad, why would Anthony Seibold take the job?
“Seibold took South Sydney to a preliminary final in 2018 (before joining the Broncos). I have no doubt he thought he could win a premiership with this Broncos roster.
“No coach, particularly a young one, would take a job with an inferior roster to the one he is leaving. You just don’t do that.
“I did not coach or have a rundown football team at the Broncos.”
Bennett then chronicled the galaxy of stars at Seibold’s disposal.
“Let’s look at their current roster,” he said.
“Jamayne Isaako is a New Zealand Test player. Corey Oates is a Queensland player. Xavier Coates is a PNG Test player. Darius Boyd is a former Origin and Test player. Anthony Milford is an Origin player.
“Kotoni Staggs is a future NSW Origin player. Matt Lodge is a good NRL prop. David Fifita and Joe Ofahengaue are Queensland Origin players. Payne Haas made his debut for NSW last year.
“Jordan Kahu and Alex Glenn have played Test football for New Zealand and been in a grand final. Tevita Pangai Jr and Tesi Niu have played Test football for Tonga.
“Seibold has 12 players with Origin or Test experience.
“What are we talking here? We are being lost in the smoke-and-mirrors. There is a lot of talent there under Seibold but no-one is playing to their talent.”