Exclusive: the man to replace Bennett revealed
SUPER coach Wayne Bennett's 25-year reign at Brisbane is all but over with Michael Maguire being headhunted to be his successor at the Broncos.
The Courier-Mail can reveal Brisbane are in secret talks with Maguire after offering Bennett a new front-office position for 2020 - effectively ending his career as head coach of the Broncos.
The bombshell comes just hours before Brisbane's clash against South Sydney tonight at Suncorp Stadium.
The impending departure of Bennett _ who has delivered all six premierships to the Broncos _ as head coach is one of the most significant chapters in Brisbane's glittering 30-year history.
Brisbane have discussed a three-year arrangement with Maguire worth around $2.4 million.
Broncos chief executive Paul White will hold a press conference in the coming days to reiterate the club will honour Bennett's current deal, which expires at the end of next season.
But Bennett will not be Brisbane's head coach in 2020. Only an unlikely premiership victory this season will save him.
There remains a possibility Bennett could walk away sooner - possibly joining the Dragons next season - as he digests the reality he is unwanted as head coach at his beloved Broncos beyond next year.
Bennett is aware of the new position being offered to him. It has gone down like a lead balloon with the veteran coach with sources saying White and Morris strongly "disagree" with Bennett's desire to coach the club in 2020.
Morris and White want to respect Bennett's status by transitioning him into another role, but the 68-year-old is unlikely to accept that offer.
Queensland Origin coach Kevin Walters has been mentioned as a successor to Bennett by virtue of his status as a Broncos legend and former assistant coach, but Maguire is tipped to clinch the post.
The Broncos are in talks with Maguire, who steered the Rabbitohs to the 2014 premiership.
Maguire was announced as Kiwi Test coach in May, but the New Zealand Rugby League are unlikely to stand in the way of him taking charge of the Broncos.
White and Bennett's friendship dates back 34 years to the Queensland Police Academy but the pair's relationship has become strained in recent months over the super coach's fight to extend his career at the Broncos.
Bennett still has the support of the dressing room but it will not be enough to save him long term as Broncos hierarchy push forward with their succession plan.
As part of the selection process for Brisbane's next coach, a key criteria is that Bennett's successor must have a premiership on his resume. Maguire ticks that box.
The Broncos have previously appointed rookie coaches in Ivan Henjak and Anthony Griffin, but both appointments were a disaster.
Yesterday, Bennett effectively challenged the board to back him or sack him. He was resigned to the fact he would not be at Red Hill next season.
"Absolutely," Bennett said.
"I live in the real world. I can only speak for myself.
"I don't have any other control in that (his coaching future at the Broncos). That's the way I feel. I don't have any doubt about that (possibly being sacked). Quite realistically I may not be here, that's exactly it.
"It's not my decision. You ask me a lot of questions here that other people should be answering and that disappoints me enormously.
"The last time I left (Brisbane in 2009), I left for similar reasons. But I made the decision to leave so this drama wouldn't happen.
"This time I haven't made the decision to leave so it's up to the board and the CEO to make their decisions.
"I'm not making it for them this time. I made it easy for them last time. I'm not doing it this time."
Should Bennett walk away at season's end, it opens the door for him to join the Dragons. As revealed by News Corp on Tuesday, Dragons bosses are eyeing off a Bennett return to replace Paul McGregor, who is under pressure to retain his job next season.