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9 hours ago
An elated Ivan Henjak has removed himself from the shadow of icon Wayne Bennett after being appointed to replace Brisbane's only coach in the club's 21-year history.
The former Canberra halfback will make his coaching debut at the age of 46 after the man heavily courted to replace Bennett, Craig Bellamy, accepted a multi-million dollar, five-year deal to remain with Melbourne.
"There's no shame in being second, third or even fourth choice to coach a club like the Broncos," said Henjak, his appointment confirmed at an early Saturday morning press conference in the club's board room.
"The is the number one coaching job in the NRL. I'm truly honoured and grateful to have been offered my chance by such a great club."
Henjak will take over the reins next season at Brisbane when Bennett heads to St George Illawarra.
"I haven't coached in the NRL but I can assure you I'll do all I can to uphold the legacies that Wayne and the past greats who've come through the club have left," Henjak said.
But Henjak, who has been Bennett's assistant since 2006, has no intention of trying to fill Bennett's coaching boots.
"I've been fortunate to have worked with a number of wonderful coaches and hopefully I've learned a little from each of them," said Henjak.
"I'm not Wayne Bennett and I'll never be Wayne Bennett, he's a coaching icon.
"I have a different personality to Wayne and I'm not going to try and be like Wayne."
Henjak was originally pencilled in to make his debut as an interim coach until Bellamy served out the final two years of his Storm contract.
But in the wake of Bellamy's decision he has effectively been given two years to show he's worth an extended contract and has what it takes to be the club's second long-term coach.
Bennett told the players of Henjak's appointment just before Friday night's 26-24 loss to the Gold Coast.
Henjak Saturday admitted he thought his chance to coach the Broncos had gone when he left the club after six years in 2000.
"It's funny how your life takes little twists and turns and while I never thought I'd get the opportunity again I got another chance in 2006 but I never expected it to happen this quickly," he said.
"I love what the club stands for and there's been a wonderful legacy left by Wayne and the past players of what this club is all about.
"The Broncos are about playing to the death and playing for each other and that's the thing I'm looking forward to making sure stays in place."
Broncos chief executive Bruno Cullen said Henjak's loyalty to Brisbane and understanding of the club's culture had played a part in his appointment.
"His knowledge of the game and more importantly his knowledge of the Broncos club, its culture and its players, his vision to go forward and his absolute passion for the game screamed 'pick me, pick me'," Cullen said.
Henjak's first season as head coached will be made easier by having former Broncos greats Allan Langer, who is back in training and looking lighter than when he played, and prop Shane Webcke as part of his 2009 coaching team.
"I've already had discussions on Ivan's behalf with Shane Webcke and Allan Langer and those two Broncos legends will be part of the permanent coaching staff with Ivan," said Cullen.
"It's got a real Broncos feel and look about this new (coaching) team."