With the announcements earlier this month that Wayne Bennett and Anthony Seibold are set to complete one of the most sensational coaching switches in NRL history by swapping roles at Brisbane Broncos and South Sydney Rabbitohs respectively, it is imperative that the pair complete those moves ahead of the 2019 campaign.
As it stands, England boss Bennett and NRL’s Coach of the Year Seibold are set to go through 2019 with their current clubs before passing each other for 2020 but, with the pair set to complete a straight swap, the logistics would suggest an immediate change is possible. Indeed, for the players that would surely be the preferred outcome. The Rabbitohs’ playing staff are believed to be both annoyed and frustrated at Seibold’s decision to jump ship – something the former Celtic Crusaders assistant denied recently. Nevertheless, with both the Broncos and Rabbitohs having key players out of contract at the end of 2019, both coaches should move immediately to ensure they can retain the players they believe will be key for them in 2020.
Indeed, both forward Tevita Pangai Junior and centre James Roberts – key players for the Broncos currently – have indicated that they would be willing to leave the club following Bennett’s exit and, given that Darius Boyd has played under Bennett for pretty much his whole career, Seibold and the Broncos will have a lot of work on – either to persuade their stars to stay put under their new coach who is hugely inexperienced compared to ‘super-coach’ Bennett or to recruit quality players to replace them.
Either way, 2019 will, in all probability, be a tricky one for both clubs if the coaches remain with their current club. If the going gets tough, accusations will be thrown that the helmsmen have almost thrown in the towel ahead of their moves while players may question the loyalty of their coaches. It would also be tricky for the same players to commit their futures beyond 2019 without having experienced first hand how they fit into their new coaches’ systems and plans as well as whether the environment fostered will suit them. Bearing that in mind, an immediate switch would certainly benefit both clubs more than Bennett and Seibold staying put ahead of moving in 2020, a year which would be a transition year for both clubs unless the switch in the hotseat happens before the 2019 campaign commences.