Wayne Bennett's return to Broncos confirmed

Last updated 18:05 21/07/2014
Wayne Bennett
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WAYNE BENNETT: The Newcastle Knights coach is returning home to Brisbane to take over at the Broncos.

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Wayne Bennett will return home to Brisbane next season after the NRL club decided to jettison current coach Anthony Griffin with a year left on his contract.

Griffin will remain in charge for the remainder of 2014 before Bennett steps in from 2015 on a three-season deal.

The Broncos confirmed at a media conference this afternoon that Griffin had been asked to stand down at the end of his third season in charge.

Chief executive Paul White said the decision made at the weekend was based on the club's results over the past couple of years.

''As tough as this decision's been, I accept that decision - as does Anthony,'' White told reporters.

''And I want to make it clear that my support for 'Hook', the  club, and all the people within is absolute, our new incoming coach of 2015 will have that same level of support.''

It's understood players were told of the news at a crisis meeting at the club's Red Hill headquarters late this morning.

Brisbane sit sixth on the NRL ladder following their stirring 28-22 win over the Warriors at Suncorp Stadium on Saturday night.

Griffin has received overwhelming support from his senior players and White, but senior board members have worked behind the  scenes to lure home their foundation coach.

Bennett won six titles in 21 years at Brisbane before leaving at the end of 2008 to link with St George Illawarra.

The 64-year-old had also been in talks with the Broncos to return at the end of 2011 but ultimately turned them down to take  up a bigger $1.4 million per season deal at Newcastle.

A Fairfax Media report said Bennett had convinced News Corporation boss Lachlan Murdoch he could return the former glamour club to their previous heights and rebuild team culture. News owns 67 per cent of club shares.

Griffin said he was disappointed but remained philosophical about the situation.

''It's a big bad world out there; it's business,'' he said.

''Life's full of challenges and this is one of them. I've done everything in my power to get the club to this point. It's in a position where it's going to succeed.

''For me personally, I'm looking forward to the next 10 weeks.''

While Griffin admitted he could simply walk out of the club now, he had no intention of doing so.

''I've spent a lot of time here, I enjoy my role and we've got the team into a very good position this year,'' he added.

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''We've got a fantastic opportunity over the next 10 to 12  weeks.''

Meanwhile, Stephen Kearney's coaching future in the NRL is again uncertain following today's developments.

Kearney, who joined the Broncos as Griffin's assistant after he resigned from the head coaching role at Parramatta in July 2012, is off contract at the end of the season and despite a successful history with Bennett he could still be a casualty of the revamp.

The duo coached the Kiwis to World Cup glory in 2008 - with the Australian in the unfamiliar role as assistant - but Bennett seems likely to appoint Kevin Walters as his back-up.

Walters, a premiership-winning captain under Bennett at the Broncos, joined Newcastle as the halves coach this season and is seen as a potential successor to Bennett when he eventually retires.

Kearney, who enjoyed just 10 wins in his 42-game first grade coaching stint at the Eels, preferred not to comment on his future or Griffin's demise when contacted by Fairfax Media.

"With respect to Anthony I'd prefer not to say anything. It's a tough time for all concerned," he said.

- AAP

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