Ironically, it was Anthony Seibold’s same revolutionary coaching theories that seduced Brisbane which ultimately brought him down - one of many failings.
Ironically, it was Anthony Seibold’s same revolutionary coaching theories that seduced Brisbane which ultimately brought him down - one of many failings.

Paranoia over Bennett started Seibold’s downfall

Anthony Seibold's demise as coach of the Brisbane Broncos was brewing from the moment he stepped into the gym at Red Hill.

Seibold will officially exit the Broncos on Wednesday morning, bringing an end to a drama-filled 20 months at the NRL's flagship franchise.

The Broncos are a club in ruin, languishing in 15th spot on the NRL ladder and in danger of collecting the wooden spoon for the first time in 32 years.

Seibold has become the first domino to fall as Broncos powerbrokers set about rebuilding Red Hill.

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Anthony Seibold will address the Broncos squad on Wednesday. Picture: AAP/Jono Searle
Anthony Seibold will address the Broncos squad on Wednesday. Picture: AAP/Jono Searle

It was October, 2018, when the Broncos announced they had signed Seibold, the reigning Dally M coach of the year, on a four-year contract to replace Wayne Bennett from 2020.

The plan was fanciful at best.

Bennett, the architect of Brisbane's six premierships who didn't want to retire, was expected to see out his final season at the Broncos in 2019 before swapping places with Seibold at South Sydney.

By December 2018, Bennett had been sacked in a messy divorce with the club he helped found and switched places with Seibold immediately.

 

Former Broncos coach Wayne Bennett. Picture: Mark Evans/Getty
Former Broncos coach Wayne Bennett. Picture: Mark Evans/Getty

 

After one season as a head coach in the NRL, Seibold's $3.5 million contract was extended to five years, encompassing the 2019-2023 NRL seasons.

Seibold became the fourth coach in Broncos history following Bennett (two stints), Ivan Henjak and Anthony Griffin.

He is now the shortest-serving coach to ever lead the club.

Seibold lasted less than two years and had a winning record of 37 per cent (14 wins, 23 losses, one draw) from 38 games in charge, not including the Broncos' past two games he has missed due to being in quarantine.

The Broncos' brains trust of CEO Paul White, chairman Karl Morris and the board were seduced by Seibold's Harvard University certificates and revolutionary coaching theories, which in the end contributed to his downfall.

In Seibold, the Broncos signed a coach that was in complete contrast to seven-time premiership-winning Bennett.

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Upon arriving at the Broncos' $27 million headquarters, Seibold removed every possible reference to Bennett.

He became somewhat paranoid of the man he was replacing and ripped down slogans in the gym.

Seibold preferred motivational quotes and speeches from figures like former US President Theodore Roosevelt, which he would send to critics of the Broncos.

Seibold, 45, immediately struggled to cope with the brutal pressure cooker of the Broncos which brings unrivalled focus in the NRL.

Seibold left Broncos players perplexed with his game plans and structures. They were forced to bring notebooks to team meetings.

 

Paul White and Brisbane’s board were seduced by Anthony Seibold. Picture: News Corp/Attila Csaszar
Paul White and Brisbane’s board were seduced by Anthony Seibold. Picture: News Corp/Attila Csaszar

 

He became obsessed with leadership groups and buzzwords like "marginal gains" and "peakless mountains".

The players found it difficult to connect with Seibold on a personal basis and on cracks started to appear on the field.

The Broncos snuck into the 2019 NRL finals series with a losing record (11 wins, 12 losses, one draw) and were brutally exposed.

The 58-0 loss to Parramatta was, at the time, the heaviest defeat in Broncos history and thrust the spotlight firmly on Seibold and what he was doing at Red Hill.

Seibold sacked Darius Boyd as captain for 2020 and handed the duties to Alex Glenn, who months earlier was on the verge of leaving the club.

He brought in Brodie Croft as halfback from the Melbourne Storm, a move which has backfired, and released hooker Andrew McCullough to Newcastle.

 

Anthony Seibold and the Broncos agreed on a payout. Picture: Nathan Richter/Backgrid
Anthony Seibold and the Broncos agreed on a payout. Picture: Nathan Richter/Backgrid

 

The Broncos were so devoid of experience that when they suffered key injuries, Seibold desperately signed 33-year-old veterans Ben Te'o and Issac Luke to beef-up his squad.

The 2020 season started off positively with back-to-back wins against the Cowboys and Rabbitohs, including Seibold's first win against Bennett.

But the COVID-19 pandemic shutdown the NRL competition and any momentum the Broncos managed to gather.

Since the Broncos relaunched the season on May 28 with a 34-6 loss to Parramatta, it has been one debacle after the other.

In Round 4, the Broncos suffered the heaviest defeat in the club's history in a 59-0 horror show against the Sydney Roosters.

They have lost 12 of their past 13 games since the season rebooted, suffering numerous injuries along the way, with the only win coming against last-placed Canterbury.

The club's best young player, David Fifita, last month signed with the Gold Coast Titans, an unimaginable move six months ago.

In three months the cracks at Red Hill have widened so far there was no way back for Seibold in the eyes of those in power.

Compounding his struggles has been a multitude of personal issues and disgusting social media rumour mongering, in which Seibold has engaged police and cyber security experts to investigate.

In the end, it became too much for Seibold to handle. He has now been freed to get on with his life and resurrect his coaching career.

He will leave his dream job less than two years into a five-year contract and those who put him in power should also take responsibility for the Broncos' plight.

Originally published as Paranoia over Bennett started Seibold's downfall


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