Brisbane may have to pay up to $500,000 if they want Anthony Seibold to take over the coaching reins next season in an immediate swap with South Sydney-bound Wayne Bennett.
The $500,000 figure is believed to be the difference between the 2019 pay packets of the coaches whose careers are at the opposite end of the spectrum.
Bennett - the seven-time premiership winner who was the Broncos' inaugural mentor in 1988 – is believed to be on a deal worth up to $1 million next year, while Seibold, who has just completed his first season as an NRL head coach, has a contract with South Sydney worth less than $500,000.
While it would make sense for Bennett and Seibold to swap jobs now after the pair have been chosen to take over from each in 2020, a final decision will come down to money.
On Wednesday, Brisbane announced Seibold had signed a four-year deal beginning in 2020.
Rabbitohs officials insist they are prepared for Bennett to remain in Brisbane next season and for Seibold to serve the final year of his contract, despite rejecting an offer to extend the deal before last Thursday's deadline.
The focus will now shifts to next season and whether the clubs and coaches are prepared to maintain the status quo for 12 months.
Brisbane announced on September 25 that Bennett's contract would not be renewed beyond 2019 but Souths expected Seibold to stay after guiding the club to within one win of the grand final and did not seriously begin contemplating a replacement until two weeks ago.
Besides Seibold, the Rabbitohs have their other coaching staff in place for next season and are yet to discuss with Bennett whether he wants Broncos high performance manager Jeremy Hickmans and head of performance analysis Scott Barker to join him at Redfern.
Hickmans and Barker have worked with Bennett at St George Illawarra, Newcastle and Brisbane, and are part of his coaching staff with the England team, who face New Zealand in the second Test at Anfield this weekend.
With players coming off contract at the end of next season free to negotiate with rival clubs from November 1, Souths general manager of Football Shane Richardson is expected to consult with Bennett in coming days about recruitment and retention.
Hooker Damien Cook is likely to be a priority, along with backrower Cameron Murray and winger Campbell Graham, while Bennett has a good relationship with George and Tom Burgess, who are in his England squad. Sam Burgess is signed until the end of 2023.
However, unlike the time Bennett almost joined Souths in 2012 and told officials he wanted to bring Michael Ennis – putting Issac Luke's future at the club in jeopardy – and Darius Boyd to the club, Bennett will not have the final say on recruitment.
Like most leading AFL clubs and a growing number of NRL clubs, the Rabbitohs have taken that responsibility out of the hands of the coach so he can focus on his primary role, but Bennett will still have significant input into who Souths sign.
Tevita Pangai jnr has already been touted as a player who may follow Bennett from Red Hill to Redfern and there are a number of others who are close to the master coach.
Bennett told reporters in England it would be up to those players to make their own decisions but his influence could be of concern to Broncos officials if he remains at the club next season after signing to coach elsewhere in 2020.
The 68-year-old maintains that he is committed to coaching Brisbane in 2019 but has placed the ball firmly in the court of the club, saying: "If the Broncos have another position they'll have to address that – I know what my position is".
In other words, Bennett isn't going to leave Brisbane unless he is guaranteed the same money he is due to receive from the Broncos next season but that is double what the Rabbitohs have budgeted to pay Seibold in 2019.
To facilitate an early swap, Brisbane is likely to be asked to meet the difference in the contracts between the pair – effectively meaning the Broncos pay Bennett to coach Souths next season and the Rabbitohs pay Seibold.