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Lockyer reveals 'strained relationship' with Bennett after coach's sacking

Darren Lockyer says his role as a Brisbane board member in appointing Anthony Seibold as coach had "strained a great relationship" with his former mentor Wayne Bennett.

Lockyer won four premierships as a player with Bennett as coach, including in 2006 when he was captain, but was on the board that sacked Bennett in December and appointed Seibold on a five-year deal.

As a result, Lockyer said the pair were "not on great speaking terms".

The Broncos legend was quizzed at The Courier-Mail's season launch on stage in Brisbane where he said there had been "limited conversation" with Bennett since his sacking. He said he had texted Bennett on his 69th birthday but his old coach's reply "wasn't the best response".

Lockyer then spoke after the launch where he described last year's coaching drama at the Broncos as "quite a circus", before expressing his hope that his formerly close relationship with Bennett would be restored over time.

"We are not on great speaking terms but I wouldn’t expect us to be on great speaking terms with the way it all unfolded. Over time I am sure we will cross paths and we will mend bridges," Lockyer said.

Rabbitohs coach Wayne Bennett.
Rabbitohs coach Wayne Bennett. ©Grant Trouville/NRL Photos

"The outcome is that it has strained a great relationship between me and Wayne which is disappointing but at the same time I knew being in that position I was in … as a board member, that there was potentially going to be a strained relationship as an outcome, but I am also of the belief that over time we will mend that.

"It has been tough. From the outset I envisaged there would be some strained relationships through it. It was highly emotional. It was played out in the media and was quite a circus there for a while. It is done now and we all have to move on."

On stage, Lockyer also confirmed his relationship with his former teammate and captain Kevin Walters, who was overlooked for the Broncos job, was also strained.

He said last year was "tough on everyone" but was confident Seibold would prove his worth on and off the football field.

"Consistency is the biggest thing that Anthony is trying to drive into this squad and I think that was one of their biggest Achilles heels last year," Lockyer said.

"It is a fresh approach and a fresh start so there is a lot of energy around at the moment with the young guys. Anthony has done a lot of research about best practice around the world so he brings a lot of science behind his philosophies and methods.

"He relates to the new generation well. The proof will be in the pudding but from what I am feeling and seeing I think there will be a lot more consistency around individuals and their performances."

While expressing his confidence in Seibold, Lockyer said Bennett had found the perfect fit at the Rabbitohs and did not discount a fairytale premiership win.

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"I think there are a lot of people looking to buy tickets for the round-eight game between Souths and Brisbane," Lockyer grinned.

"That’s our game. Players change clubs. Coaches change clubs. It drives the narrative. You’ve got one of the oldest clubs in the history of the sport in South Sydney, with so much history, and Wayne loves his history. You don’t underestimate him. He is quite likely to win a premiership this year.

“Souths have got the belief. They know how to win a premiership and they have got a coach who knows how to do well on the big occasions.”

Lockyer said he still valued the influence of Bennett and Walters on his career, but added his decision on the Brisbane coach was made for the right reasons.

"Wayne was my coach for 14 years and I will never forget what he did for me, he turned me into the person that I am today so I will always be grateful for that," Lockyer said.

"Kevvie, we shared a lot of success on the field and we had a lot of good times off the field. Both those guys are disappointed with the result that's happened at the Broncos, but I was sitting in a position where my consideration is what is best for the club.

"Obviously I'm not the one individual that made the call here but I'm totally comfortable with the decisions that were made because it was made in the best interests of the club."

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