Monday 21 February 2011

NRL 2011 - Brisbane Broncos sack Ivan Henjak just weeks before NRL Season Opener.

By Warrick D Nicolson, February 21, 2011.

Ivan Henjak never had an easy job.

Now he doesn't have one.

Check out the full press release & video from the Brisbane Broncos on Henjak's sacking here.

Henjak was promoted from Brisbane Assistant Coach to Head Coach for the 2009 season when supercoach Wayne Bennett joined the St.George-Illawarra Dragons.

Bennett had been the Broncos only coach since they were admitted to the NSWRL in 1988 and under his watch the team had made the Finals in all but three seasons from 88-2008. This was not a job anyone was going to have fun in given they were following a legend like Bennett. Sure the Broncos are a strong club but still... following Bennett was going to be tough.

Henjak managed to get the Broncos to the 2009 Finals and to within a game of the Grand Final, but the team struggled late in the 2010 season and their incredible playoff streak ended when they were beaten by the Canberra Raiders in Round 26 at home... without Darren Lockyer.

There was strong mail at the end of 2010 that Lockyer desperately wanted to play in the Canberra game despite not being full recovered from a rib injury that had robbed him of nearly a month of football at that crucial stage of the season. But Henjak made the call to protect his star five-eighth from the big Canberra pack and banked on the rest of the team to beat the Raiders and qualify.

The Raiders won 18-16 and the Broncos missed the playoffs for the first time since 1991.

These were the Three Most Powerful Broncos before today
Henjak's decision to back his troops instead of risking his captain's ribs, didn't go down well amongst the senior Bronco players and it appears that it may well have led to an off-season without harmony at Broncos HQ.

As a result of the apparent friction, Broncos Management have made the stunning decision to sack Henjak immediately, with the NRL season just weeks away.

| "It has been decided at board level that a change needed to be made in this regard, and that change will be made effective immediately,” said Broncos chief executive Paul White in a statement. “These are tough times for all parties concerned but I would like to express my personal thanks and that of the club to Ivan for taking on such a challenging role, and for his valuable contribution to the Broncos for the past eight years.” |

Assistant Coach Anthony Griffin will take over for Season 2011 and it must be noted that Brisbane CEO Paul White was Griffin's assistant coach at Redcliffe for the 2006 QLD Cup Season. White only took the top job from Bruno Cullen at the end of the 2010 season.

The Broncos released a coaching biography of Griffin this evening.

| Anthony Griffin is a highly-credentialled coach who has had much to do with developing many of the Broncos’ current crop of emerging young stars.

He coached the Broncos to the inaugural NYC grand final in 2008 and also coached Redcliffe when they won the Queensland Cup in 2006.

Anthony Griffin has done a long apprenticeship at a number of clubs and we are very confident he has the skills and drive to be a success as head coach of the Broncos,” said Broncos’ general manager of football operations, Andrew Gee.

Griffin was assistant coach at the Melbourne Storm in 2001 and 2002 and had earlier won three Queensland Colts premierships with Redcliffe and Brisbane Norths.

He has also coached at representative level with the Queensland under 17s (1998) and the Queensland Residents side in 2007. |

While Griffin takes over for 2011, there is one juicy rumour doing the rounds that Mal Meninga might be interested in the job... and the Broncos might be interested in him.

And of course there's always the Wayne Bennett back to Brisbane possibility...
Matt Duncan contributed to this report.

The Australian reports Feb 22 | Less than 24 hours after Henjak was sacked, the Broncos notified the Australian Securities Exchange that their Chairman Daryl Somerville had also resigned his post. It is believed Somerville backed Henjak at the end of 2010 to hold the head coaching job.
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