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Broncos swing the coaching axe
Former captain Gorden Tallis was expecting players rather than coaching staff to get the sack at the Brisbane Broncos after yet another disappointing NRL campaign.
So it came as a surprise to Tallis when the club announced four of its coaching staff were leaving.
Those departing are assistant coach Kevin Walters, performance director Gary Belcher, Colts coach Glenn Lazarus and Toowoomba Clydesdales mentor John Dixon.
Walters, who played 271 games for Brisbane, was captain when the Broncos lifted its last premiership in 2000.
Lazarus was the cornerstone of the club's back-to-back premiership wins in 1992-93.
"It was a massive surprise," said Tallis.
"To be honest I thought some players might have been shown the door.
"The coaching staff don't miss the tackles, the coaching staff don't drop the ball and the coaching staff don't lose the games."
Chief executive Bruno Cullen refused to speculate on their replacements but some of the names tossed up today included Terry Matterson, Jason Taylor and John Monie.
A foundation Bronco player Matterson is now assistant under Matthew Elliott at Canberra while former Eels halfback Jason Taylor won the Premier League grand final last weekend. Monie was in charge of the Eels when they won the Premiership in 1986 and also coached overseas.
Roosters' Premier League coach Shane Flanagan is also regarded as a first grade coach in waiting.
Former Brisbane representative Ben Ikin and former Raiders' great Mal Meninga, who has expressed an interest in returning to coaching, have also been mentioned along with Bronco stalwarts Allan Langer, Andrew Gee and Michael Hancock.
Former forward hit man, Peter Ryan, could also be a candidate for a coaching related position.
None of the departing quartet was available for comment.
Cullen declined to elaborate on the biggest shake up at the club since coach Wayne Bennett sacked Wally Lewis as captain in 1990 and replaced him with Gene Miles.
Tallis, whose final season last year ended in much the same disappointing manner, agreed the club had to do something after again failing to make the final.
"Everybody needs a change and they've been there for about five years, that's a long time in footy.
"It was probably either them, or Wayne Bennett.
"Something had to change but I honestly thought it would be the players.
"Wayne's often said players make coaches look good.
"I was surprised it was the coaching staff and not some players who went."
A current National Rugby League board member, Tallis scoffed at suggestions he would re-unite with his former coach as Brisbane's new assistant.
"Please," he said.
"Those four blokes would buy and sell me with the (coaching) knowledge they've got."
Walters, whom Bennett brought to Brisbane to take-over the five-eighth role from Lewis, has said he wants to pursue his growing "Hand Wash Cafe" chain.
Belcher, who won a premiership with Canberra in 1989, also had "other" business interests while Lazarus, a dual premiership winner with Brisbane and Melbourne, resigned.
It's understood Dixon has been offered a coaching opportunity with the Celtic Crusaders in Wales.
"We are currently negotiating with a number of possible candidates and because of their individual commitments at this time, announcements cannot be made until each has the opportunity to finalise any current obligations they may have," said Cullen.
Ikin, who's entrenched in a revolutionary player welfare program, ruled himself out of any coaching role with the club in the near future.
"I'm really enjoying pursuing the player welfare at the club," said Ikin.
"We're working together with Griffith University with some new and exciting things to benefit and educate players and right now that's what I'm enjoying.
"But I know if Wayne Bennett is looking to replace those blokes there'll be plenty of willing applicants."