Wayne under pump: Renouf

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UFO Hunter
Wayne under pump: Renouf
By Dan Koch
October 10, 2005

FORMER Brisbane great Steve Renouf believes 2006 will be a make or break season for Broncos coach Wayne Bennett following his decision to sack three of his assistants last week.

Assistant coach Kevin Walters, performance director Gary Belcher and Colts coach Glenn Lazarus were dumped by the club on Friday as Bennett seeks to find the answer to his team's poor finals showings over the past five years.

While admitting the club needed to make some significant changes, Renouf yesterday questioned Walters' axing in particular, and said Bennett would face the greatest scrutiny of his illustrious coaching career next year.

"Wayne is under the pump, there's no doubt about that and while things needed to be shaken up a bit I don't think anyone expected this sort of reaction," Renouf said of the sackings.

"He's certainly put himself in the position of being a real target next season if things don't improve. It's devastating for the guys who lost their jobs and I especially feel for Kevvie because he is a really close friend of mine and I am sure he didn't see this coming.

"I think Kevvie has a fair bit to offer in coaching ranks but he and the other guys have taken the hit for the club's bad finish to the last few seasons. It's a big call to lay the blame on them, but in football clubs you have to make tough decisions sometimes.

"But if the same thing happens next season it will be interesting to see the club's reaction."

After leading the competition for 15 weeks during the regular season Brisbane crashed out of this year's title race by losing its last seven matches.

The 34-6 loss to Wests Tigers in the second week of the semi-finals was the Broncos' seventh loss in the eight finals they have played since winning the title in 2000.

After that loss Bennett and Broncos managing director Bruno Cullen both intimated the club needed to significantly alter its game plan and playing personnel if it was to keep up with the likes of grand finalists Wests Tigers and North Queensland Cowboys.

The addition of classy St George Illawarra rake Michael Ennis, who yesterday announced he would be moving to Brisbane for two seasons, is a step in the right direction. However, much more is needed from emerging youngsters like Neville Costigan, Sam Thaiday, Joe Clarke and Brett Seymour.

With rumours abounding of team disharmony and the club's alleged displeasure at the performances of some members of the top squad, Renouf said Bennett needed to "get tougher" with the players.

According to the four-time premiership-winning centre, the current crop of Brisbane players were getting an "easier ride" from Bennett than the championship-winning sides of the 1990s.

Excepting veteran trio Petero Civoniceva, Shane Webcke and Darren Lockyer, Renouf said almost every player needed to take some responsibility for what has happened to Walters, Belcher and Lazarus.

"I do wonder if some of the guys are pushing themselves or are being pushed like we were back then (in the mid '90s)," Renouf said.

"The key guys seem to be carrying way too big a workload. They just aren't getting the support they need.

"I really hope the playing group doesn't escape what is obviously disciplinary action. A few of those boys need to put their hands up. They shouldn't be allowed to get off scot-free, which I think some of them have to an extent recently.

"They don't mind taking the accolades when they are winning, so they have to shoulder a fair portion of the blame when things capitulate like they did at the end of the year."

It is understood the Broncos are planning to appoint replacements for the dumped coaches in the next 48 hours. Several names have already been floated as potential candidates to fill the vacant positions including Canberra's Terry Matterson and Cowboys assistant Kelly Egan.

Former Bronco Ben Ikin has been linked with the Colts role, but flatly denied he was in the running, saying he was committed to his work as a player liaison officer at the Broncos, the media manager of the Queensland State of Origin team and as a Channel Nine commentator next season.

Renouf urged his former mentor to steer clear of former players and people who had strong links to the club when he makes his final decision.

' 'Wayne really has to get this one right and I think he will take his time and sit down and make sure he gets the best people available," Renouf said.

"There are a lot of good people out there and I think it is really important to sway away from guys who have just left the club. It doesn't work.

"Wayne needs to find someone with some strong, positive, new ideas who is prepared to challenge him when they think things aren't going the way they need to."

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