A worrying stat may suggest otherwise but Wayne Bennett insists Brisbane can still win the NRL premiership ahead of Thursday night’s crunch clash with North Queensland.
Bennett claimed the Broncos had moved on from last round’s shock 52-34 loss to Parramatta and believed they were “in as good a position as anyone” to claim the 2017 title.
Brisbane are guaranteed a top four spot and can finish as high as second with victory over a desperate North Queensland in Townsville.
However, their premiership credentials took a major hit from the Parramatta juggernaut last round.
It was just the second time in Broncos club history they had conceded 50 points at Suncorp Stadium.
But a much more concerning stat was expected to trouble Bennett ahead of the NRL finals – no team has conceded 50 points in a game and gone on to win the title in the same season.
Yet Bennett believed Brisbane were still on track for title No.7.
“We are in as good a position as anyone else,” Bennett said of claiming the title.
“A lot of teams aren’t going to be playing next week.
“All of our critics didn’t think we would make the eight so who knows what we can do from here.”
Bennett reacted to last round’s rout by calling in defensive specialist and ex-Broncos hardman Peter Ryan for a morning of brutal tackling drills on Monday.
However, Bennett claimed he was so convinced that last round’s loss was an aberration that he reckoned he did not sit his team down to address the thumping.
“To be honest with you I haven’t actually,” he said.
“And if they had been doing that all season it wouldn’t matter.
“But they haven’t been doing that all season – 21 out of 22 games ain’t bad.
“The team is not built on one defensive display good, bad or indifferent.
“We do it pretty well most weeks. We just had a bad day.”
Another key injury also could not waver Bennett’s faith in his side.
Brisbane received a blow when they lost form prop Korbin Sims (broken arm) for the season against the Eels.
He joins hooker Andrew McCullough (knee) who went down five weeks ago.
Sam Thaiday initially helped fill in for McCullough at rake but will now slot into the front row for Sims with Ben Hunt the starting No.9.
“I have been pretty pleased with how we have covered them (injuries) – I think we are in pretty good shape,” Bennett said.
“We are not overachieving by any means, but there is a lot of upside to this team.”
Bennett confirmed form backrower Alex Glenn would play despite missing Wednesday training with a groin complaint.