Ivan Cleary might not be at the Tigers much longer so the club is eyeing a possible deal with Wayne Bennett.
Ivan Cleary might not be at the Tigers much longer so the club is eyeing a possible deal with Wayne Bennett.

Bennett to Tigers ‘the greatest coup ever’

IF Ivan Cleary wants out of Wests Tigers, Steve "Blocker" Roach reckons "it would be the greatest coup ever" to hand the keys to the bus to Wayne Bennett.

And instead of waiting around for another year or two to see if Cleary changes his mind, Roach has called on the Tigers to make the deal happen immediately.

On another crazy day surrounding the NRL coaching merry-go-round, Bennett's name was thrown up as a possible replacement for Cleary in 2019, with some tipping the move could happen within weeks, if not days.

There were also reports the Tigers had secretly approached Penrith to buy out the remaining two years of Cleary's contract.

Tigers insiders insist they have made no approach, and if it is being spoken about, it's simply a ruse to put more pressure on the Tigers to release Cleary.

Adding to the intrigue, Bennett and Cleary are both managed by the same company, SFX Sports.

What can't be disputed is Cleary's infatuation to coach his son Nathan has caused a major divide at the club and some believe it has basically left his position untenable.

If the Tigers do decide to let Cleary go, Roach reckons Bennett would be "magnificent".

"What is it he has won, seven premierships?" Roach questioned.

"And we haven't made the finals since 2011.

 

While there is no doubting Cleary has done a fair job rebuilding their roster, the Tigers still finished ninth this season.

And the fact remains they are one of only two NRL clubs, the other being Newcastle, who haven't made the finals in the past five years.

"Bennett could change the whole organisation, on and off the field," Roach declared.

"People talk about how close the competition is.

"But I believe there is a clear distinction between the 'haves' and the 'have nots'.

"This would make us a 'have'.

 

Tigers legend Steve Roach believes Wayne Bennett can transform the club. Picture: Gregg Porteous.
Tigers legend Steve Roach believes Wayne Bennett can transform the club. Picture: Gregg Porteous.

 

"Because he could attract players and sponsors and make the organisation 10 times bigger than what it is now."

The reality is Bennett doesn't want to leave Brisbane until his contract expires at the end of next season because he doesn't want to leave the players who have stuck by him.

But the only thing that could possibly change that is if he is sacked to make way for a new coach before 2019.

This is where Anthony Seibold's name comes into the equation.

Speculation just won't go away that the Broncos have identified the newly crowned Dally M coach of the year as the man they want to replace Bennett.

Seibold is currently negotiating for an upgrade at South Sydney.

Even though Souths would not want to lose him, the Broncos have the money and power to gazump any offer - and they are already in a precarious position given they fell short on previous targets Paul Green and Craig Bellamy.

The other name being talked about in Brisbane is Michael Maguire, who is also on the Manly shortlist to take over from Trent Barrett.

Just like Cleary's position at the Tigers, it would be hard to imagine Souths wanting to keep Seibold on as a caretaker for 2019 if he does agree to move home to Queensland in the meantime.

The Tigers are privately filthy they have been forced into this situation purely because of Penrith's strongarm tactics.

 

Wayne Bennett is contracted to the Broncos next season. Picture: AAP
Wayne Bennett is contracted to the Broncos next season. Picture: AAP

 

Cleary was out of the job when the Tigers offered him a lifeline after he was previously sacked by Penrith.

Cleary has stated publicly that his intention is to see out the final two seasons of his deal.

But insiders concede there has been a change come over Cleary ever since Anthony Griffin was sacked at Penrith.

Roach added: "Even some of the players are questioning why he is staying now. Is it about the money?

"And if stays two more years and we miss the opportunity to get a bloke like Bennett, all of a sudden we are back to square one and we are still running ninth or 10th or whatever.

"If you were going to go after anyone you'd go after Bennett."

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