Anthony Seibold must learn from Wayne Bennett.
Anthony Seibold must learn from Wayne Bennett.

Kent: Seibold’s first lesson in the dark arts

It took only a light dusting for Anthony Seibold to stand and walk from his press conference and reveal how far he still must travel.

After the Broncos win over Cronulla Seibold was asked about bad feelings among his former South Sydney players, which there certainly was at his leaving, and he tried a simple throw off.

"I am not sure what that question is about," he said. "I am not sure what you want me to say."

 

What the reporter wanted him to say was that he hates the Rabbitohs and can't wait to stick it up them this Thursday with his mighty Broncos team, which might have been a touch hopeful on the reporter's part, but no feud is too precious in rugby league it can't do with a gentle nudge.

At the very least Seibold should first have realised the question was coming and to have something prepared. There are a thousand dry comebacks to such questions.

The reporter, Scobie Malone, followed up his question with one much the same, a gentle prompt for Seibold to talk.

"You'd have to ask them," Seibold said, with some finality. "I am not sure where that question comes from - I will leave it at that guys."

And with that he stood and walked.

Anthony Seibold has rejected speculation about signing Cody Walker. Image: AAP Image/Darren England
Anthony Seibold has rejected speculation about signing Cody Walker. Image: AAP Image/Darren England
 

 

To see how it should be done all Seibold needed to do was look at his co-star in this week's storyline.

A night earlier Wayne Bennett was humming an old tune. Bennett got a question about coaching against his former club at his own press conference and a side of his face smiled, while the other side tried to play catch up.

"Who are we playing next week?" he asked.

"I don't know. I'll go home and look at the diary and see who we've got next week."

 

Wayne Bennett knows how to play the media. Image: AAP Image/Dean Lewins
Wayne Bennett knows how to play the media. Image: AAP Image/Dean Lewins

 

There will be blood on the floor this week.

It is the kind of week where Bennett will spend all his time pretending it does not matter to him when it means absolutely everything to him, and all around people will marvel at the old master playing his head games.

Seibold is still learning the rules, but he has a score to settle.

Eight months ago Seibold was coaching South Sydney and Bennett was coaching the Broncos as the complete soap opera, with full trim, was being played out in backrooms.

This particular August week the unwitting Seibold took his South Sydney team to Brisbane, straight into an ambush.

He had no idea it was at the height of the brawl between Bennett and the Broncos.

 

Brisbane chairman Karl Morris and CEO Paul White got done by Bennett. Image: AAP Image/Albert Perez
Brisbane chairman Karl Morris and CEO Paul White got done by Bennett. Image: AAP Image/Albert Perez

 

Bennett had fought for his job all year but a month earlier he got a letter from chairman Karl Morris detailing the Broncos plans, in some overseeing role, for when Bennett stepped down after 2020.

It was a solid offer but all it told Bennett once was that any hope he held about extending his job as coach was gone once and for all.

The fight to remain coach was over. Only Bennett didn't want another job in the organisation, he wanted to be coach.

He always considered himself a coach. At first it seemed wholesome and somewhat noble. A man with no ambition further than his station, no desire in life beyond helping young men achieve their own dreams.

But as Bennett's life changed dramatically in recent years some of the shine wore off that.

 

Seibold walked into a man-made storm at the Broncos. Image: AP image, John Gass
Seibold walked into a man-made storm at the Broncos. Image: AP image, John Gass

 

The Broncos had already offered the Craig Bellamy the job and Bennett's time was finalised.

A week before Bellamy's knock-back last June, though, a story broke that Brisbane had a contingency plan. It was underplayed and got lost in the dozen different storylines swirling around Bennett and Bellamy and the Broncos.

The rumour was certainly doing the rounds, though.

The Broncos had identified Seibold as Bennett's possible replacement. Giving the rumour great strength was Seibold's own confirmation that he asked Rabbitohs boss Shane Richardson to delay negotiations to extend his contract beyond 2020 until after the season.

Seibold was doing terrifically well at South Sydney. The Rabbitohs were top four and had returned to the kind of football that took them to the premiership in 2014 and Richardson's gamble on Seibold made him look a winner, too.

Bennett had one hope left for an extension and that was public support. Nobody knew of the letter from Morris or what the Broncos' plans were and so, perhaps, with a public campaign the will of the people might force the Broncos to change.

He was the man who had coached all six of the club's premierships, after all.

Bennett began talking publicly about his frustration at the Broncos. Unlike him.

 

Bennett played the furore to his benefit last time out. Image: AAP Image/Dave Hunt
Bennett played the furore to his benefit last time out. Image: AAP Image/Dave Hunt

 

Then that August week, when Souths flew to Brisbane to play the Broncos, a story leaked that the Broncos had secretly spoken to Seibold.

Richardson called the coach, angry that he had not told him. Seibold denied any conversation had taken place but, in the week he played the Broncos in a crucial game, he was forced to deal with all the speculation, the pressure at its greatest.

Bennett's Broncos ended up pumping Souths. The Rabbitohs players appeared distracted.

Seibold left Brisbane confused and dazed.

He can't prove a thing but, later when it all cleared, he is certain Bennett had something to do with the story that was leaked.