Brisbane great Chris Johns has slammed the Broncos for failing to implement a clear succession plan sooner, accusing the NRL club of treating favourite son Kevin Walters "like an idiot".
Johns says the Broncos have been disrespectful to Walters and it was about time they made their intentions clear about coach Wayne Bennett's future after reports linking Melbourne mentor Craig Bellamy to Red Hill.
On Wednesday, CEO Paul White guaranteed Bennett would be coach next year after claims the Broncos wanted to sign Bellamy on a four-year, $5 million-plus deal from 2019.
But White could not make any more guarantees after confirming he had spoken to Bellamy and would sweat on a response as the Storm coach mulls over a three-year Melbourne extension.
While Bennett's future may be up in the air, Johns was more peeved with Brisbane's treatment of former skipper and assistant coach Walters.
The three-time Broncos premiership winner believed they should have told Walters whether he had a chance to take over from Bennett.
Walters started the season as Bennett's deputy but lasted four rounds before quitting to concentrate solely on his Queensland State of Origin coaching role.
"I think this could have been explained a bit better," Johns said.
"I think this has been very messy and a succession plan should have been rolled out a lot sooner than this.
"The person I really feel sorry for is Kevvie Walters because he has been led around like an idiot."
Johns said he believed Walters was under the impression he was being looked at to replace Bennett.
"I think the real loser out of all this is just the disrespect shown to Kevin," Johns said.
"I'm not saying he should be the next Broncos coach but he should at least be told honestly what they are thinking so he can make career decisions."
Johns said Walters had knocked back a chance to coach the Gold Coast Titans to link again with Brisbane under Bennett this year, with an eye to one day taking over the reins.
Johns' former Broncos teammates Glenn Lazarus said it was karma that Bennett could be replaced after unceremoniously sacking so many people over the years.
"A lot of people, good people, have been kicked to the curb by the Broncos when Wayne Bennett was head coach," Lazarus told Macquarie Sports Radio.
"And I'll just name a few - Gary Belcher, Kevvie Walters, myself, long-term strength and conditioner and loyal servant to Wayne, Steve Nance, Ivan Henjak.
"And Anthony Griffin was punted so Wayne could come back.
"And all of that was dragged through the media and obviously it was very public and it was hurtful. Now, the tables have turned."