Why Wayne Bennett and Anthony Seibold are engaged in war of words

The clash between Wayne Bennett and Anthony Seibold is essentially a clash of everything. They are polar opposites in almost every way, the original odd couple.

The weird thing about the uncivil war between Wayne Bennett and Anthony Seibold is that if they ever formed a coaching team their skill sets might go together like milk and honey.

Imagine it. The old fox Bennett handling the relationships, putting consoling hands on shoulders, solving off-field problems.

And the methodical Seibold doing all the game research and handing down his plans which Bennett could simplify in his own, homespun way.

It won’t happen, of course, as they are currently the participants in the biggest feud in rugby league.

The clash between Bennett and Seibold is essentially a clash of everything – new versus old, Harvard teachings against homespun wisdom, detailed game plans against simple, old but proven methods.

They are polar opposites in almost every way, the original odd couple.

The whisper around the rugby league traps for seasons is that Bennett’s game plans are in danger of growing grey whiskers, but even his greatest enemies concede he is still the master of relationships, and that counts for more.

As one player says privately, when Bennett put his arm around a crying Latrell Mitchell in the Souths’ dressing room he did not do it for Mitchell alone.

It was a message to every player in the room that “I care … if you stumble, I’m there for you.’’

James Roberts is the player who defines the difference between the Seibold and Bennett way.
James Roberts is the player who defines the difference between the Seibold and Bennett way.

This is one area where the Broncos hierarchy feel Seibold can learn off the old master.

Amid the hardness of professional coaching there must be softness and empathy.

The player who defined the difference between the Seibold and Bennett way is James Roberts.

Bennett gave Roberts, who left home when he was 12 and drifted on and off the rails ever since, a wide margin for error at the Broncos, and while sailing dangerously close to the wind, he did manage to play in a winning State of Origin side for NSW.

Seibold arrived the next year but found that in fairness to other players, he was not prepared to give him the same slack.

The coach does not have to apologise for trying to treat everyone the same but it was part of Bennett’s magic that he could conjure something from the roughest of rough diamonds.

Wayne Bennett is renowned for his man-management skills.
Wayne Bennett is renowned for his man-management skills.

Bennett’s savage criticism of the Broncos may have rocked Brisbane but is another step on rugby league’s road to normality.

While a curiously flat AFL competition ducks and dives its way through the COVID minefield, league has reactived all of its traditional storylines, from coach sackings to manager disputes, rule debates and now the nuclear blow-up between coaches.

Suddenly everything feels normal again.

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