Tevita Pangai Junior and James Roberts could follow Wayne Bennett out of Red HIll.
Tevita Pangai Junior and James Roberts could follow Wayne Bennett out of Red HIll.

BREXIT: Broncos stars could walk out after Bennett

THE Brisbane hierarchy's decision to move Wayne Bennett on has left the club precariously placed.

It's no secret that the super-coach has the unwavering support of much of the playing group.

In August, Darius Boyd and a cohort of players snubbed CEO Paul White's barbecue function to visit Bennett at his home instead.

Boyd, of course, sees Bennett as a father figure and followed him to both the Dragons and Knights and then back to the Broncos.

And while the skipper - signed until the end of 2021 - has recently stated he was committed to seeing out his career at Red Hill regardless of Bennett's future, there are others who may be inclined to part ways with the club over the impending coach swap with Anthony Seibold.

These are the Broncos players foxsports.com.au believes could be on the way out either in 2019 or 2020 as a result of Bennett's departure:

TEVITA PANGAI JR

Tevita Pangai Junior and coach Wayne Bennett at Broncos training. (AAP Image/Dave Hunt)
Tevita Pangai Junior and coach Wayne Bennett at Broncos training. (AAP Image/Dave Hunt)

The 22-year-old Tongan international is already being compared to Dally M medallist Jason Taumalolo, and there are up to half a dozen clubs that have shown interest in splashing the cash for the off-contract back-rower.

Last week, Pangai Jnr told The Courier Mail that he'd re-sign with the Broncos for the 2019 season, fuelling speculation he was planning to follow Bennett out the door once his contract ended at the end of 2019.

But pen hasn't met paper yet, and if the Bennett-Seibold swap happens in time for the 2019 season, and the Rabbitohs can find space in the cap there is a huge chance he could be lured away immediately.

The close bond between the pair began while Bennett was at the Knights and Pangai Jr was wreaking havoc in the club's lower grades.

"He came here because of me and that's why he's here at this club, for no other reason," Bennett said earlier this season.

"I am just pleased he is playing the football he is. We've got a pretty special relationship.

"I always knew what he could do and we just had to give him the time to be able to do that."

MATT LODGE

Wayne Bennett and Matt Lodge during Broncos training. (Photo by Bradley Kanaris/Getty Images)
Wayne Bennett and Matt Lodge during Broncos training. (Photo by Bradley Kanaris/Getty Images)

The off-contract bookend was one of the Broncos' best in 2018. And his return to the NRL after his well-publicised rampage in New York in 2015 had a lot to do with the backing he received from Bennett.

In August, Lodge said he will "always owe (Bennett)".

"Wayne put his reputation on the line to have me here. A lot of people didn't do that," he told AAP.

"I probably wouldn't be playing if someone didn't have the guts to give me another chance.

"I haven't recommitted here yet but I love playing under Wayne, who was the only one in the comp who put his hand up to take me back and I will always owe him for that."

So, don't be surprised if the skilful prop from Western Sydney makes a homecoming.

JAMES ROBERTS

James Roberts and Wayne Bennett during Broncos training. (AAP Image/Dave Hunt)
James Roberts and Wayne Bennett during Broncos training. (AAP Image/Dave Hunt)

Roberts has overcome depression, anxiety and substance abuse, and earned his first NSW Blues jumper with Bennett's support, so it's no wonder he feels indebted to his coach.

And Bennett has openly expressed his admiration for the 25-year-old too.

"This is not his greatest achievement," Bennett said of Roberts' State of Origin selection.

"Not by a long shot. His greatest challenge was not to be rotting away in a jail somewhere. Or worse, terminating his own life. He was fighting a lot of demons.

"I've coached a lot of blokes but there's probably not a player I've been more proud of to get an Origin jersey. This guy is pretty special in my eyes."

And while the fleet-footed centre is contracted to the Broncos until the end of 2021, there have been reports his former club the Titans are in need of a strike centre and are willing to pay him a lot more money than he's on at Brisbane.

And without the Bennett factor, the Broncos lose plenty of pulling power.

DARIUS BOYD

Where Wayne goes, Darius tends to follow.
Where Wayne goes, Darius tends to follow.

There's no official suggestion that Darius Boyd could leave the Broncos after Wayne Bennett links up with Souths. After all, the skipper is entering the second year of a rich contract extension that will keep him in Red Hill until the end of 2021.

But Boyd's close relationship with Bennett is well documented. Indeed, the full-back has followed Bennett to every stop along the way - stints in Brisbane that book-end contracts with the Dragons and Knights.


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