Off the Wall

It is probably appropriate that as rugby league celebrates its centenary the coach who has had charge of a first grade team longer than anyone else - Wayne Bennett - today announced his career with the Brisbane Broncos will end prematurely.

By announcing now that, after 20 years, he will leave the Broncos at the end of the coming season, Bennett is confirming what has been well known, but denied with increasing incredulity, for the last year - relations between Bennett and the News Limited-controlled Board and Management have been on an unstoppable decline.

It all began when Bennett, without consulting anyone at the Broncos, negotiated a lucrative package with the Sydney Roosters in the latter days of the 2006 season to take over as coach in 2007. The deal only fell apart when it was prematurely leaked - almost certainly by a Roosters official who wanted to sabotage it.

The Broncos and the Roosters have a