Bennett denies poaching plans

Wayne Bennett speaks to the media after joining the Rabbitohs. Picture: AAP
Wayne Bennett speaks to the media after joining the Rabbitohs. Picture: AAP

WAYNE Bennett says he has no plans to pilfer Brisbane's star-studded playing list and has sympathised with his loyal Broncos staff who are facing the axe.

Bennett broke his silence at South Sydney headquarters on Tuesday after being sacked by the Broncos on Sunday.

His dramatic axing by voicemail brought an end to a 25-year, six-premiership association with the Broncos and paved the way for Anthony Seibold to take over the reins in Brisbane.

Bennett's move to the Rabbitohs for the next three years could impact on the Broncos playing roster given the "Bennett Disciples" he has nurtured in Brisbane.

Explosive forward Tevita Pangai Jr is expected to seriously consider a move to Redfern after indicating he would only sign a one-year extension to remain in Brisbane for 2019.

But Bennett said his track record proved he did not raid the Broncos after leaving in 2009 to join St George Illawarra.

South Sydney players get used to the new regime. (Mark Kolbe/Getty Images)
South Sydney players get used to the new regime. (Mark Kolbe/Getty Images)

"If you look at the last time I left the Broncos, one player followed me (Darius Boyd) and that was because the club didn't want him," he said.

"I don't have a history of taking players from the Broncos. If someone wants to come here that's fine.

"They've got a good club there and good people around them. If they're happy with their environment, families, that's more important."

Bennett, 68, seemed more worried about the futures of his Broncos staff.

Assistant coach Jason Demetriou, fitness chief Jeremy Hickmans, video analyst Scott Barker and sports scientist Tannath Scott have been placed on gardening leave for a week while the Broncos and Seibold ponder their futures.

Cody Walker clearly feels pretty comfortable with the new boss. (AAP Image/Dean Lewins)
Cody Walker clearly feels pretty comfortable with the new boss. (AAP Image/Dean Lewins)

Seibold has already signed at least four new staff, including three from South Sydney, while Bennett is yet to take any to the Rabbitohs.

Bennett refused to agree to the coach swap last Friday after he failed to receive assurances from the Broncos about the future of his support staff, prompting the club to sack him.

"I want to clear it up for those guys up there who have been told to go gardening for a week," Bennett said.

"There's four of them sidelined, told to go away and their futures will be decided next week. I've got great empathy for those people.

"That hasn't happened here (at South Sydney). There isn't one person that's been told to go gardening or lost his job.

Englishman Sam Burgess already knows what he’s in for. (Mark Kolbe/Getty Images)
Englishman Sam Burgess already knows what he’s in for. (Mark Kolbe/Getty Images)

"When I was interviewed for the 2020 job, Shane Richardson (Rabbitohs boss) told me that I couldn't bring staff with me.

"I mentioned bringing staff and he got in first, he mentioned they've got wonderful staff here and were happy with them.

"I said that's fine if that's what you want. I don't want someone losing their job."

Seibold has already signed assistant coaches Peter Gentle and Ben Cross, clouding Demetriou's future.

Souths fans finally get to meet their new coach. (Phil Hillyard)
Souths fans finally get to meet their new coach. (Phil Hillyard)

Bennett said he had no plans for Demetriou to join him, however left the door open for the highly-regarded assistant to make the move.

"No he's not coming, not at the moment," he said.

"He's never been part of the discussions here. None of the staff at the Broncos were ever part of the discussions.

"When Shane said they were happy with the staff, it stopped."