Bennett’s box guest a ‘farewell gesture’
NRL legend Glenn Lazarus believes Wayne Bennett "will struggle to hold his job for next year" after Andrew Gee was a shock guest in the Broncos mentor's box.
Lazarus, a five-time premiership winner, was the first player in the history of the game to win competitions with three different clubs - two with the Canberra Raiders, two with the Brisbane Broncos and one with the Melbourne Storm.
The NRL hall of famer told Macquarie Sports Radio's Halftime with James Willis he thought Bennett's time at the Broncos was over with the surprise appearance of Gee bringing a hidden meaning.
"To me it appeared to me to be a bit of a farewell gesture," Lazarus said.
"Andrew Gee has always been one of Wayne's favourites. Having him in the box sort of indicated to me that even if they had won, they weren't going to play at Suncorp next week so I think we could read something into that.
"Either Wayne is worried he won't be coaching next year or he has other options and maybe he feels it is better for everybody if he just left."
Gee is a controversial figure in the NRL. He quit as Broncos football operations manager in 2014 as the NRL were launching a salary cap investigation into the club.
The Broncos were cleared but Gee refused to be interviewed during the NRL probe.
Gee is also a four-time premiership player who played 255 games for the Broncos.
"Because I invited him. It's still a free country isn't it?" Bennett said of Gee's attendance post-match.
"I don't tell the NRL who I am bringing to the game. He's not a criminal. He's a friend of mine. He can come and sit in the box with me any time he wants. What's wrong with you guys?"
Speculation was rife about Bennett's future but had gone quiet over the final three weeks of the competition.
The Broncos enjoyed wins over the Rabbitohs and Roosters before thrashing the Sea Eagles to push into sixth on the NRL ladder.
Heavy favourites in the elimination final against the Dragons, the Broncos fell 48-18, which has revived the speculation about the super-coach's future.
Lazarus suggested Kevin Walters may be the man to replace Bennett and is "waiting in the wings" although conceded "anything is possible" when it comes to coaching.
"If the Broncos feel as though the relationship is that bad and they think they're better off going in different direction and they can afford to pay Wayne out, they quite feasibly could and will," Lazarus said.
"Wayne will kick up a stink but at the end of the day, something's got to give there.
"The relationship between him and Paul White and the board is very fragile. It's like walking on eggshells around that club at the moment and that club won't go any further unless they resolve that, whether you like it or not, it's a massive issue inside that Broncos organisation.
"The fact they went out way they did in week one of the semi-finals, I think it's the catalyst for them to maybe move on from Wayne Bennett and go down a different path."