The Brisbane Jets and Firehawks are chasing the services of coaching great Wayne Bennett with a bidding war set to begin, according to The Courier Mail.
Although the NRL have not come to an agreement on who will be the 17th club to join the league, an expression of interest has been called, signalling the intent of the Jets and Firewhawks, as well as the Dolphins, to try and lure Bennett back to Brisbane.
Firehawks bid powerbroker Shane Richardson aaid he has caught up with Bennett about the possibility of a coaching job should their bid be accepted.
“We went down to Souths a few weeks ago and we caught up with Wayne,” he said.
“We had a chat, but he was one of a number of South Sydney people we spoke to that day as part of putting our bid together.
“I have a history with Wayne and I was involved in bringing him to Souths, but there’s been no offer and there are a number of coaches we are looking at for the job.
“I want to make it clear we haven’t signed Wayne Bennett.
“We’ve spoken about which coaches are an option and of course Wayne is an option, but so is Paul Green, who actually played for the Easts Tigers.
“There has been no formal talks, but we will need to appoint a coach as quickly as possible because you can’t sign players without potential recruits knowing who the coach is.”
A $1 million coaching budget would be available which could lure any coach and Jets spokesman Nick Livermore said they have also been in contact with Bennett.
“We’ve already had talks with Wayne and there would be a number of players that would follow him if he came to Brisbane for a new team,” Livermore said.
“Wayne Bennett would be the perfect candidate to spearhead the creation of a second Brisbane team.
“Wayne won’t come cheap, we understand that, but we have a budget set aside if we win the licence and he is interested in joining us.
“Wayne is a proven winner. He is a western-corridor product. He was born in the region and he has property in the area so the synergies between the Jets and Wayne are perfectly aligned.
“It wouldn’t surprise me at all if the other two bids are also chasing Wayne.
“He is a priority for us, but our number one goal now is to demonstrate to the NRL that there is only choice to make when it comes to choosing their 17th team.”
The NRL is set to announce the 17th franchise in July.