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Former Broncos coach Wayne Bennett.

The father of Greek tragedy, Aeschylus, is said to have coined the phrase that "the first casualty of war is truth".

Appropriate, indeed, when applied to the sacking of Brisbane Broncos coach Wayne Bennett.

Bennett’s firing by CEO Paul White after 25 years as coach of the Broncos and six titles came at the end of what was a war between the generals of the club’s hierarchy and its field marshal.

The combatants will jostle for ownership of the narrative about how it happened, and why, for years to come in what is a saga set to inflame opinion in the same way that the dumping of Wally Lewis did almost 30 years ago.

In the theatre of war, the dictum that "history is written by the winners" is widely accepted. But in the case of the recent stoush between Broncos powerbrokers and Bennett it is not yet clear who won and who lost, or if in fact there are any winners.

Bennett was not ready to speak publicly about his sacking on Sunday night but is likely to do so shortly.

When he does it is understood he will outline why he believes Brisbane's big wigs had their fingerprints all over negotiations for a coaching swap with Anthony Seibold while Bennett was overseas coaching England, and without his knowledge. Those revelations will explain his take on what he meant in Friday’s fateful press conference when he said, in reference to the swap, that "I was drawn into it".

Broncos sack Bennett

Bennett, despite any conversations he subsequently had with Souths supremo Shane Richardson, is adamant he had never made a final decision that he would join the Rabbitohs early.

The seven-time premiership winner had gleaned by Friday that Brisbane had intended to construe his exit as one where Souths had gone on bended knee to ask for a release and the Broncos, due to their benevolence and with the coach’s blessing, had granted it.

He regarded that as "spin" and was not having a bar of it.

The Broncos' view is far different to that. White made it clear, when announcing Bennett’s sacking, that the coach’s performance in Friday’s presser was a key to his demise.

Brisbane powerbrokers were certain that by Friday Bennett had agreed with Souths to leave early after recognising a "common sense approach" should prevail, and he had officially informed the Rabbitohs he was ready for the switch.

Now all that remained to be done was to facilitate it. A press release to make the announcement was in the works.

The Broncos also believed that by pitching Bennett's hope for a move to Souths as one of mutual agreement, but on the Rabbitohs request, they would honour his legacy and paint the coach in the best possible light with his players.

Bennett addresses media on Friday

Instead his Friday performance was a big "up yours".

In the background was a fractured and irreparable relationship between Bennett and Brisbane’s decision makers.

There are some at the Broncos who view Bennett’s public criticism of White and chairman Karl Morris as treasonous and as a valid reason on its own for dismissal, and that for far too long he had behaved like he was above the rules that govern the behaviour of most employees.

Bennett does not see it that way, and in fact said on Friday he had been critical of no one and was just saying it "how it is".

It is not yet clear who won and who lost, or if in fact there are any winners.

The Broncos head honchos have also been fed up with Bennett’s antics at media conferences. That reached its zenith, or some would say nadir, when Bennett decided to virtually barricade himself inside Broncos HQ recently to avoid media, in a virtual prison of his own making, before exiting the premises laying down in the back seat of a car in what has become known as his "Escape from Alcatraz" routine.

For them the performance was "an embarrassment". For Bennett, and he has told journalists as much, it was "entertainment" and "theatre".

Wayne Bennett during the trip to England to coach the team against New Zealand.
Wayne Bennett during the trip to England to coach the team against New Zealand. ©NRL Photos

Key to Bennett’s reluctance to leave the Broncos the way the club had mapped out for him was the fact he had made a written commitment to his players via text that he would honour his contract in 2019, an intention he re-stated several times since.

Late last week understands Bennett was deep in negotiations with Broncos board member Neil Monaghan, a News Corp employee, about the futures of three key members of his coaching staff – Jason Demetriou, Scott Barker and Jeremy Hickmans.

Bennett was not agreeing to any swap deal so long as he was unsatisfied with the packages the trio had been offered.

He is peeved the Broncos never had a direct conversation with him where they said they weren’t happy with him and wanted him out – a  straight man-to-man conversation. The hierarchy had lost trust in Bennett, always alarmed at what he might say or do next.

Bennett was not surprised he was fired on Sunday, far from it. His view of it, in one sense, is almost that his CV is now complete.

Wayne Bennett with Wendell Sailor after Brisbane's 1993 grand final win.
Wayne Bennett with Wendell Sailor after Brisbane's 1993 grand final win. ©NRL Photos

Friday's press conference, the final nail in Bennett's coffin, was conducted on the last day of spring.

Times and seasons are certainly changing at the Broncos.

It will be the "Summer of Wayne", by George, but the mastercoach will be enjoying it at Redfern and not Red Hill.

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