Nothing certain about post-Bennett era at Broncos
For the first time in 30 years a timeline has been put on the end of the Wayne Bennett era at the Brisbane Broncos.
When the ultimate conclusion of that extraordinary reign comes is yet to be determined but developments at Broncos HQ on Wednesday ushered in a shift in the tectonic plates of power at the glamour club of the NRL.
Broncos CEO Paul White's revelation that he had held discussions with Melbourne's Craig Bellamy about coaching Brisbane beyond 2019 and Bennett's admission that he had facilitated the approach signalled a realisation that a 68-year-old coach cannot go on forever.
Bennett admitted as much when he spoke to the media about the possibility of ill-health striking him down. He spoke of being both realistic about his future and doing the right thing by the club when discussing his own role in encouraging that a succession plan be explored.
But there is a hole in the succession plan as large as the one in the ozone layer.
White said the Broncos would not make a formal offer to Bellamy until he knocked back a three-year deal tabled by the Storm. Bennett said he would make a call on his future likely early in 2019.
If both those scenarios played out, Bellamy would need to spend months in limbo without knowing where he was headed.
That eventuation defies belief. The other point is that if Bellamy accepts an offer to coach Brisbane in 2020 then he will face an entire year on the sidelines as the Storm have no intention to offer him a one-year extension.
As well as a looming end of an era at Brisbane, the Storm are facing the end of Bellamy's own dynasty. Cooper Cronk has already gone. Cameron Smith and Billy Slater are in their twilight years and Bellamy's own future remains under a cloud.
A post-Bellamy and post-Big Three period at Melbourne will require a readjustment and rebuild the club has not experienced since its foundation in 1998
Bubbling away behind the scenes in Brisbane is a feeling from former Broncos stars that Bennett has been treated poorly and that Wednesday's media interactions had a staged managed aspect to them.
Chris Johns spoke publicly at Brisbane HQ about the "messy" look of the whole affair and how there had been a lack of respect shown to both Bennett and club legend Kevin Walters.
Bennett conceded that while he knew White was meeting with Bellamy, he had no knowledge that the meeting had taken place until finding out through a third party.
If the full story had not been told by the Broncos hierarchy to Bennett himself then what is being kept from the public? The coming days and weeks may answer that question.
The way Bennett handled himself through a packed press conference was one of his finest hours.
There was a sense he had become emotional early on in the interview. Then a crumb was caught in his throat, which caused his eyes to glisten.
A glass of water was provided and Bennett became more bullish about his future and revealed he had received offers from other NRL clubs to coach them.
His determination to do the right thing by the club that he has served for the best part of three decades was foremost on his mind and his lips.
When Bennett was given the keys to the Broncos kingdom in 1988 it was with the assurance that his tenure was secure.
He signed no contracts and, while the initial directors were there at least, the surety that Bennett was Broncos coach as each day dawned in Brisbane was as certain as the sun rising in the east each morning.
That guarantee has now gone. There is nothing certain about the coaching future of the Brisbane Broncos right now.