The sad Wayne Bennett vendetta hurting NRL players and fans

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Wayne Bennett is pictured during a press conference when he was coach of the Brisbane Broncos.
Wayne Bennett refused to show up to a 30-year premiership reunion at the Brisbane Broncos last weekend. (Photo by Bradley Kanaris/Getty Images)

All the greats were there to mark 30 years since the Brisbane Broncos won their first premiership.

Glenn Lazarus, the brick with eyes who couldn’t stop picking up premierships wherever he went, was impossible to miss in his XXXL Brisbane polo shirt.

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Michael Hancock, all thrashing legs and non-stop action, stood still long enough to join in the reunion photo on Suncorp Stadium.

Little Allan Langer was there, of course, cracking jokes and organising the kick-on venue for later in the evening.

Steve Renouf - the Pearl - who ran 95m to score a famous grand final try with Ray Warren riding him home in commentary turned up looking like he could still go the length.

Willie Carne fronted, as did Trevor "The Axe" Gillmeister, Chris Johns, Mark Hohn and Kerrod Walters.

Kevvie Walters joined his old teammates after overseeing the modern-day Broncos Babes' dismantling of St George Illawarra.

But there was one notable absentee as the former players were introduced to an appreciative crowd prior to Brisbane's clash with St George Illawarra on Sunday.

Coach Wayne Bennett was a prominent no show.

The man who has led the Broncos to all six of their premierships was invited but didn’t front.

He didn’t have something else on, and he was more than likely in town just a few kilometres away from Suncorp Stadium.

"I won’t be going," Bennett told the Courier Mail in the lead-up.

"I don’t have to explain why I’m not attending, but I’m not going. Full stop."

Bennett refused to attend because of an ongoing feud with the club following his controversial axing in 2018. It appears to be a one-sided feud.

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Current CEO Dave Donaghy wasn't at the club when the decision to move Bennett on was made.

He made several overtures to Bennett in an attempt to get him there, only for his olive branch to be snapped in half by the stubborn supercoach.

Bennett's snub only hurt the former players who bled for him and loyal fans wanting to pay homage to one of the game's great sides.

Some might paint it as a man standing on his principles, but it came across as a small-minded boycott borne out of some sort of petty vendetta.

Wayne Bennett, pictured here chatting to Broncos players during his time in charge in 2018.
Wayne Bennett chats to Broncos players during his time in charge in 2018. (Photo by Bradley Kanaris/Getty Images)

Players, coaches and officials get moved on all the time.

Bennett knows that better than anyone.

He's shown plenty of people the door, including the great Wally Lewis.

He's also done what's right for Wayne Bennett throughout his coaching career, even if it's put other people out or cost them jobs and opportunities.

It’s hard to tell a 72-year-old to grow up – but grow up, Wayne.

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