Bronco premier­ship vow

Sunday Tasmanian - - Sport - PETER BADEL SUN­DAY DE­CEM­BER 2 2018 THEMERCURY.COM.AU

WAYNE Ben­nett has de­clared he is not a spent force and in­sists he can bury the most toxic coach­ing saga in Bris­bane’s his­tory to lead the Bron­cos to an emo­tion-charged premier­ship next sea­son.

The Bron­cos of­fi­cially launch their 2019 pre-sea­son to­mor­row and the be­sieged Ben­nett opened up to News Corp about his de­ter­mi­na­tion to leave Red Hill with a premier­ship fairy­tale.

The 68-year-old has en­coun­tered the most stress­ful off-sea­son of his 40-year coach­ing ca­reer, staving off months of spec­u­la­tion to de­clare on Fri­day that he has no in­ter­est in a straight swap with An­thony Seibold.

Now Ben­nett is look­ing ahead to a swan­song sea­son at Red Hill that could en­shrine his legacy — aim­ing to de­liver a seventh ti­tle and snap­ping Bris­bane’s 13-year premier­ship drought.

The su­per coach hasn’t won a premier­ship since lead­ing the Dragons to glory in 2010 but rub­bished sug­ges­tions he has lost his mojo, say­ing he still has the men­tal and tac­ti­cal tools to de­liver an­other ti­tle.

“I haven’t lost any be­lief. I’m not doubt­ing my­self,” Ben­nett said as he closes the door on the Seibold saga by launch­ing his 26th sea­son at the Bron­cos to­mor­row. “There are a lot of coaches out there who have never won an NRL premier­ship. I have won seven. And we were a few sec­onds away from win­ning an­other premier­ship in 2015 [los­ing to the Cow­boys in ex­tra-time].

“I know what wins pre­mier­ships. And that’s my job ev­ery year — to con­vince this group of men this is what we have to do to win.

“We’ve got through a lot of tur­bu­lence lately, but I have to get this group of men back to­gether again to get us back to the grand fi­nal, all with the same be­lief, all with the same con­fi­dence, all on the same page.

“We have sta­bil­ity in our staff, which is why it was im­por­tant to get clar­ity around my fu­ture.

“A sea­son or two can roll by and it [premier­ship suc­cess] doesn’t hap­pen and I ac­cept the pres­sure builds, but I haven’t lost con­fi­dence.

“I’ve won too many big games, and won too many pre­mier­ships, to lose faith now.”

Bron­cos fans are en­ti­tled to query the side’s premier­ship am­bi­tions in 2019 in the wake of their shock­ing 48-18 loss to the Dragons in the open­ing week of the play­offs last sea­son.

Fac­tor in the po­lit­i­cal hot­bed sur­round­ing Ben­nett’s con­trac­tual spat and the loss of hard­men Sam Thai­day and Josh McGuire, ex­pos­ing a posse of young for­wards, and the Bron­cos face a bat­tle to make the top-eight.

But Ben­nett backed his squad to be a le­git­i­mate top­four con­tender, rat­ing Bris­bane’s class of 2019 su­pe­rior to last sea­son’s out­fit.

“The tal­ent is there to win it,” he said.

STAY­ING: Wayne Ben­nett.

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