If Wayne Bennett is rugby league’s Clint Eastwood then his exit from Brisbane headquarters on Thursday was his version of Escape from Alcatraz.
Bennett returned to Broncos HQ for the first time this pre-season but did not come out of the main administration building while the players trained in two groups.
A plethora of camera crews were waiting at every conceivable entry and exit point at the plush Brisbane base but the wily coach was nowhere to be seen.
It was the "great Wayne hunt" but Bennett, who has a history of making sneaky escapes when being pursued, proved elusive yet again and made his exit from the club laying down on the back seat of a car, although an urban myth quickly circulated suggesting he was in the boot.
The humour of the overall scene obscured the serious reasons why Brisbane's rugby league media had descended on Red Hill.
Bennett is set to meet club chairman Karl Morris in the next few days to discuss his immediate coaching future at the Broncos.
Boyd hopes Bennett will stay at Brisbane in 2019
The focus on the coaching scenario is becoming an unwanted distraction for the players. Broncos hooker Andrew McCullough insists the sooner it is resolved the better.
Bennett is contracted to coach the Broncos in 2019 before moving on to take charge at South Sydney in 2020 but the meeting with Morris will explore suitable terms to both parties so he can take charge of the Rabbitohs next season.
A fruitful negotiation will enable Anthony Seibold to leave Redfern and coach Brisbane in 2019, a year earlier than he is contracted to do so.
Bennett is expected to drive a hard bargain and if the financial terms are not to his satisfaction, it is believed he will stand on his digs and coach the Broncos in 2019.
Brisbane powerbrokers have said publicly they are comfortable with that possibility but behind the scenes both the Rabbitohs and Broncos officials believe an early swap is the best outcome.
The Broncos must also consider the impact an early Bennett exit will have on staff. That complexity only adds to the intricacies of what looms as one of the most anticipated meetings between a Broncos chairman and Bennett in 30 years.
Funnelling into all the intrigue is the fact that Broncos players are none the wiser about who will be their coach next year, a situation highlighted when McCullough was asked who will be coaching the Broncos in 2019.
"Same as you guys ... unknown," McCullough said.
"We are going by what Wayne says and he will be here at the moment and we will go from there. It is out of our control about what happens. There are plenty of big guys upstairs who have got to make the big calls and the tough decisions."
There are plenty of big guys upstairs who have got to make the big calls.Andrew McCullough
When asked whether he wanted the coaching situation resolved quickly, McCullough’s answer was emphatic
"Yes … because everyone needs to move forward in the right direction," McCullough said.
The Maroons representative, who was among a group of stars returning to pre-season training for the first time on Thursday, said the players would be happy to play under Seibold in 2019 "if it comes to that".
"It is a business where you adapt to different circumstances. Players come and go throughout the year as well and they have got to play to style, and it is no different with coaches.
"It is not ideal, but in saying that you look throughout the whole NRL and different clubs go through different dramas … so we have just got to get on with it as a group."
McCullough said Bennett had spoken to the players earlier on Thursday morning where he reaffirmed he was contracted for next year and he would deal with "the guys upstairs".
For the six months since it emerged the Broncos had made a play to recruit Storm mentor Craig Bellamy there has been constant speculation about Bennett’s coaching future.
Magic Round - A footy festival
That has not dissipated despite the club attempting to provide clarity about Bennett’s contract at Brisbane for 2019.
More than an hour after training had ended on Thursday, camera crews from all the major networks remained at Red Hill waiting for Bennett to make an appearance, but he'd already escaped.
For late November the scene had a bizarre aspect to it and only served to strengthen McCullough’s assertion that the uncertain situation at the Broncos right now is "not ideal".