Griffin takes reins at Broncos
ROCKHAMPTON'S link to the Brisbane Broncos became even stronger yesterday with the shock sacking of coach Ivan Henjak just weeks before the start of the NRL season.
In to the hot seat goes assistant coach Anthony Griffin who still calls Rockhampton “home” and enjoyed his return to the city last year when in charge of the Broncos team that beat Melbourne Storm in a trial game at Browne Park.
The former Rockhampton Brothers player and Emmaus College student has the background and Brothers stalwart Steve Parle believes Griffin will do a good job even though he admits he was shocked to hear of Henjak’s dismissal.
“I’m shocked about Ivan but happy for Anthony,” he told The Morning Bulletin just minutes after hearing the news on television yesterday.
“Anthony is probably not happy about getting the job under these circumstances as he is a very loyal bloke.”
Parle said he had spoken to members of the Broncos party that visited Rockhampton at the weekend and there was no suggestion of trouble in the club.
The Brothers stalwart said he hoped suggestions it was a “player revolt” was wrong.
“It is never good to have the players picking the coach,” he said.
For Parle it is a disappointment to see a long-time club servant like Henjak dismissed in such a manner as he gave a lot to the club even though, on occasions, he could be “a little cranky”.
“However, I think Anthony will do a great job as he has had a good apprenticeship,” he said.
Griffin had a spell at the Storm as an assistant in a title-winning team and also did well coaching in the Queensland Cup at Redcliffe.
Since joining the Broncos he was successful with the NYC team, taking them through to a grand final.
Henjak’s tumultuous two-year tenure as Brisbane coach finally came to an end yesterday with the Broncos showing him the door less than three weeks out from the NRL premiership kick-off.
Despite having two years left to run on his deal, Henjak was replaced by Griffin after supposedly losing the support of several senior players.
It was alleged Henjak was given three months pay on the condition of strict confidentiality over the issues surrounding his departure.
Henjak battled speculation over his future almost from the day he took over from coaching legend Wayne Bennett before the start of the 2009 season.
It is believed he received an unfavourable assessment from his players in a report that was submitted at the end of 2010 when the club missed the finals for the first time in 19 years.
“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,” chief executive Paul White said at a packed press conference at the club’s Red Hill headquarters.
“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.”
It is believed Henjak was unaware he was about to be shown the door, having spoken positively about the season ahead following last weekend’s trial win over North Queensland in Alice Springs.
There was widespread speculation late last year that Henjak was to be replaced by former Test coach Ricky Stuart after Stuart walked away from his job at Cronulla.
Henjak survived, receiving backing from White when he was appointed to replace Bruno Cullen as chief executive in October last year.
“Ivan is the coach,” White said at the time.