Brisbane have told Wayne Bennett his services will not be required in 2020.
Next season will be Wayne Bennett's last as Brisbane Broncos coach after the club confirmed on Tuesday afternoon the 68-year-old's contract would not be extended beyond 2019.
Bennett and club chairman Karl Morris have held talks in recent days and both have agreed that the six-time Broncos premiership winning coach will remain at the helm of the club in 2019.
"Having the decision made now puts an end to speculation and allows a clear focus on getting ready for next season. I firmly believe in the playing group we have here at the club," Bennett said.
Morris said the club had been making a "considered approach to the coaching position for 2020 and that approach would continue".
"The club will work through a thorough process, led by CEO Paul White, to identify and select a coach for the 2020 season and beyond," he said.
White said the Broncos would not be rushing to find Bennett's replacement.
"We are in no rush to find the next coach of this club and we have been clear on that for the past year – we have a process and we will work through that to get the best result.
"Planning has already begun for next season and we are expecting big things from the team."
NRL.com understands Bennett had sought a one-year extension for 2020 but Morris and White will be seeking a coach for at least two or three years to future-proof the club.
White said in a press conference earlier this year there were a suite of NRL coaches off contract at the end of 2019 and that the Broncos would leave no stone unturned in their quest for the best coach available in 2020.
He said at the time that apart from the club's much-publicised approach to Craig Bellamy, no other coach had been contacted about the 2020 season.
Souths mentor Anthony Seibold has been mentioned as a prime candidate while former Rabbitohs premiership-winning coach Michael Maguire remains on the market. Broncos assistant coach Jason Demetriou is highly regarded by Brisbane powerbrokers and five-time Brisbane premiership winner Kevin Walters is also in the mix.
Broncos legend Steve Renouf said Bennett's legacy at the Broncos would last forever but the NRL.com columnist added that Walters was the man the Broncos should appoint in 2020 after his success as Queensland coach.
"Wayne is the Broncos. He has won six premierships and what he has done with the young players there now, and all of us that have come through the Broncos system, is just amazing," Renouf told NRL.com in the wake of the club's announcement.
"His record is second to none and he has just done a great job but this is Kevin's time to coach the Broncos because he knows what is needed at the club in the future, he understand how the place runs and is the next generation of coach coming through.
"He understands what it means to be a Bronco and wear that jersey and he has done his apprenticeship. I know he wants the job."
Renouf said he hoped the club moved quickly to secure Walters and did not let speculation about who would be coach in 2020 drag on.
"I'd like to think that now Wayne has been given that advice that the club has already talked to someone like Kevvie and have him secured," Renouf said.
"You don't want this sort of thing dragging on for the sake of the club, the fans and the players that are there. You'd hope Wayne would be involved and a part of any transition and I am sure that Kevvie would respect that as well."
Walters is contracted to the Queensland Rugby League until the end of 2020 but it is understood the QRL board will release him to coach an NRL club if he is offered a post.