CONFIRMED: Bennett on his way to Rabbitohs
WAYNE Bennett has been named as the Rabbitohs coach for 2020 and 2021. A statement from the Rabbitohs has just been released.
Rabbitohs General Manager of Football, Shane Richardson, says the signing of Wayne Bennett is a fillip for the club.
"Wayne is one of the best, if the not the best, Rugby League coaches of all time and we are excited to see what he can bring to our Club," Mr Richardson said.
"His football record is second-to-none and his reputation as a leader is also of the highest order.
"Here he will have the opportunity to work with some of the best senior and up-and-coming talent in the game,
which from our discussions over the past few weeks I know he is excited about.
"He will also have the opportunity to work as a Head Coach with a strong coaching, football and administration staff around him that are all pushing in the one direction, The Rabbitoh Way.
"Anthony (Seibold) has done a great job at our Club over the past two years however his hesitance to extend his contract with us, an offer which has been on the table since June, led the Club to explore other options.
"We're looking forward to Wayne becoming a Rabbitoh in 12 months' time and we wish him the best of luck with the England team in their current Test series with the Kiwis.
"Now we can look forward to Season 2019 with the aim of improving our performance on the 2018 season."
WAYNE Bennett is reportedly on the verge of signing with South Sydney in a blockbuster coaching swap.
In what would be the biggest coaching swap in league history, reports emerged Thursday afternoon Bennett has agreed to join the Rabbitohs in 2020 on a two-year deal.
It came just hours after it was first reported that Rabbitohs coach Anthony Seibold is close to signing with the Broncos for 2020.
The Australian's Brent Read first reported the Bunnies' dramatic powerplay, claiming the swap could happen as early as the 2019 season.
That means Bennett and Seibold could still move clubs before the start of pre-season training just weeks away.
The development has huge implications for the rest of the competition, with the NRL coaching landscape for 2019 beginning to take shape.
Seibold's reported decision to knock the Rabbitohs back triggered immediate moves.
Channel 9 reported on Wednesday night that the Rabbitohs had offered Seibold a revised contract a few weeks ago but were yet to receive a response.
Seibold last week interviewed for the Brisbane job which is vacant from 2020 after the Broncos board decided not to renew Wayne Bennett's contract.
The Rabbitohs reportedly recently bumped up their offer to Seibold but took the offer off the table after he informed the club his preference is to sign with the Broncos.
It was reported recently that the Rabbitohs would be comfortable letting Seibold leave immediately because they had former assistant coach David Furner ready to step in.
However, the former Raiders mentor remains contracted with Super League club Leeds and would need to get out of his three-year-contract with the England club to return to the Rabbitohs.
That now appears to have been the Rabbitohs Plan B, with the club identifying Bennett as Seibold's replacement.
It remains to be seen whether Bennett and Seibold will trade places for the 2019 season or the 2020 season.
Bennett's reported decision means he has knocked back the Wests Tigers, who are now widely-tipped to officially offer their coaching position to former Rabbitohs premiership coach Michael Maguire.
Maguire had been linked with Manly, Brisbane and the Tigers, but with Seibold likely at Brisbane and Des Hasler appointed to coach Manly, Wests Tigers are his only option.
The Tigers have held coach Ivan Cleary to his long-term contracted, but he is now expected to be released to join the Panthers, where he will link-up with son Nathan.
Panthers coach Cameron Ciraldo is expected to remain as a senior assistant coach.
Meanwhile, an official decision on Bennett's successor is likely to be made at next Tuesday's Broncos board meeting, with Seibold reportedly told he is the club's preferred candidate.
Seibold is off contract at the Rabbitohs at the end of 2019, and is yet to sign an extension that has long been in the works for the rookie coach.
It comes after English Super League club Leeds confirmed on Wednesday night ex-Rabbitohs assistant David Furner did not have a get-out clause in his contract to leave if an NRL job became available.