Bennett taking his own staff: Cullen - Sports News - Fanatics - the world's biggest events

Bennett taking his own staff: Cullen

By Wayne Heming 30/04/2008 07:47:17 PM Comments (0)

Brisbane boss Bruno Cullen has rubbished suggestions high performance director Jeremy Hickman's decision to follow Wayne Bennett to St George Illawarra could destabilise the club.

Cullen pointed out that Hickman, who took over responsibility for getting Brisbane's player into top shape this year, was a member of Bennett's staff, not the Broncos.

"I don't have a problem with it at all, Jeremy works for Wayne, he doesn't work for us," said Cullen.

"Wayne hasn't taken anyone, he's just kept a staff member."

Cullen dismissed fears Bennett would use his influence to convince some players, including hooker Michael Ennis and prop Ben Hannant, to join the Dragons in 2009.

"I would expect St George, like any other club, would be looking to build their rosters for the next year and that they'd be looking at players from all clubs including ours," Cullen told AAP.

"If our players are on the market you couldn't bar St George or Wayne from talking to them.

"They're on the open market, that's what happens when people's contracts come up."

Asked if it was ethical for Bennett to be talking to Brisbane players about going to another club while he was employed by the Broncos, Cullen said: "If he doesn't do it, he'll get St George to do it.

"We're in the real world, it's not fantasy land.

"He (Wayne) would have a relationship with some of the players and that would be an advantage for him.

"They're coming off contract and if they can get better deals elsewhere and they don't want to be here, they're better off going."

Hannant, tipped to partner Petero Civoniceva in Queensland's front row for next month's opening State of Origin game, and Ennis have not been offered contracts for 2009 and beyond.

"Brisbane have expressed interest, but we're not rushing into it," said Hannant, one of the few NRL players who doesn't have a manager shopping him around to clubs.

"It's a job. I've got a family, a wife and kids to look after and whatever is best for my family, that's the decision I'm going to make at the end of the day."

Ennis, forced to battle injuries and constant challenges to establish himself as Brisbane's number one hooker since arriving from the Dragons in 2006, is more likely to go than Hannant who has strong family ties on the Gold Coast.

He would be an obvious target for Newcastle who have to find a quality replacement for NSW and Australian No.9 Danny Buderus who's heading overseas to play out his career.

"There's a few rumours being thrown around at the moment by a few clubs," Ennis told AAP.

"To be honest, I haven't really thought about it (Dragons), I suppose I'd have to talk to Benny first.

"I'm loving playing here at the moment and my form is showing that."

Hannant, who's stepped into Civoniceva's front-row role with gusto, wanted to focus on the clash with Wests Tigers not discuss his Origin selection claims.

But when asked if he felt he would be up to the challenge of Origin he said: "I think I'm ready for that.

"I'm maturing every year and working hard."

Centre Justin Hodges faces a fitness test on his bruised right shoulder on Friday.

If he can't play he would have to be in doubt for the Centenary Test against New Zealand in Sydney six days later.

Brought to you by AAP AAP © 2023 AAP

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