Wayne Bennett's secret payments BRISBANE coach Wayne Bennett will front the Broncos board this week over payments that link him to one of the biggest political corruption scandals in Australia in two decades. The board meeting, to be held on Thursday, could further fracture the Broncos after the most difficult 15 months of Bennett's 20-year reign. It's understood an internal club investigation will be launched following The Sunday Telegraph's revelations today that Bennett had been receiving secret payments for the last three years from Queensland businessman Ken Talbot. It is alleged Talbot was to pay Bennett a total amount of $1m over 10 years. And there's also speculation that several past and present Broncos players and officials had received similar payments, which may be uncovered during the board meeting. It's understood that Talbot, who has been charged with corruptly paying $300,000 to former Queensland government minister Gordon Nuttall, will use secret payments he has made to Bennett as evidence he regularly gives cash gifts to friends. It sets the scene for a classic boardroom showdown with Bennett to argue that Broncos chief executive Bruno Cullen was told of the arrangement in February this year. The revelations have blown wide open the power struggle between the Broncos board and the Talbot-affiliated Thoroughbreds - a group of wealthy businessmen who provide support to Broncos players. A contingent within the Thoroughbreds has been trying to buy the club from News Limited - the publishers of The Sunday Telegraph - with Bennett's future as coach guaranteed. It is also understood that Broncos powerbrokers are furious with Bennett for accepting the secret payments. The Thoroughbreds were originally set up to mentor Broncos players and to guide their careers after football. Senior Broncos are said to be unhappy about Bennett's involvement with the Thoroughbreds. Any financial deals a coach has do not come underthe salary cap. News Limited officials are also said to be embarrassed by the actions of Bennett. A source close to the club said: "It's going to severely dent the image of Bennett, who's always seen to be talking to players to stay at the Broncos for half of what they're worth. Here he is taking taking huge licks of money.'' When contacted yesterday by The Sunday Telegraph, Bennett said he did not wish to comment. "I don't discuss private family matters publicly,'' he said. "Any arrangement I had with Ken Talbot was disclosed by me to Broncos CEO Bruno Cullen earlier this year.'' The Sunday Telegraph understands any money paid to Bennett by Talbot was placed into his wife Trish's family trust account to be preserved for their two disabled children Justin and Catherine. Talbot said yesterday he had given money to Bennett for the past three years. "I have helped him (Bennett) financially, yes - but it's particularly for his children,'' he said. "I'm happy to assist Wayne. I have to say, Wayne is one person who has never asked for help and didn't want any assistance initially, but I persuaded him to accept it in the spirit in whichit was intended.'' Rumours surrounding secret payments being paid to players have long been associated with the Broncos, leading the NRL to begin an investigation earlier this year. NRL chief executive David Gallop said last night that previous inquiries had failed to turn up anything that breached the salary cap. However, this latest development has ensured the NRL will have to re-open the case. "Certainly those areas have been looked into at some extent before,'' Gallop said. "At the time there was nothing to suggest warranting further investigation. "But obviously it's something that will continue to be monitored.'' This is the latest bombshell in a difficult 15 months for Bennett, a six-time premiership winning coach. His dealings with the Roosters in September last year angered a number of high-profile officials and players. The departure of Petero Civoniceva, Brad Thorn, Brent Tate, Shaun Berrigan and Dane Carlaw from the club only added to the growing discontent. At a presentation awards night in October, Bennett refused to speak after accepting an award, leaving Cullen alone on stage in front of more than 500 guests, including sponsors. Last weekend, it was revealed Bennett was the prime target to replace Graham Murray at the Cowboys in 2009.