The Courier-Mail

BRONCS BUCK TREND Bennett praises players willing to pay price for a premiershi­p

CHANGE OF HEART

- PETER BADEL

WAYNE Bennett is happy to have been proven wrong by his Broncos players.

Bennett now rates his side as premiershi­p material onlymonths after declaring the club would not win a title until 2017.

On the eve of tonight’s blockbuste­r against Souths at Allianz Stadium, Bennett revealed the past six months had convinced him his squad would “pay the price” in pursuit of premiershi­p supremacy.

Bennett’s second incarnatio­n at Red Hill received a chilling reality check in March when the Rabbitohs flogged the Broncos 36-6 in Round 1 at Suncorp Stadium.

In the wake of the 30-point drubbing, Bennett dismissed any notion of winning a title, saying: “It’s too premature … in fact, I’m not talking about them for the next two years.”

As the Broncos prepare for a return bout with the premiers, Bennett now says his troops have the insatiable hunger that propelled Brisbane to their last premiershi­p in 2006.

Currently second on percentage­s, the Broncos can move within striking distance of their first minor premiershi­p in 15 years by disposing of the Rabbitohs tonight.

Asked if he saw parallels to the Broncos side he led to a tween Brisbane’s last title-winning squad and this year’s outfit.

In 2006, Brisbane finished the regular season third. This year they are safely in the top three regardless of tonight’s result.

Nine years ago, Bennett’s Broncos scored 497 points and conceded 392. With two regular season games remaining, Brisbane have scored 519 and leaked 352.

In 2006, with the finals looming, Brisbane lost 18-12 to the Storm in Round 23. Last week, in Round 24, Brisbane lost 12-10 to the Roosters, but history has taught Bennett not to fret over a pre-finals defeat.

“To be the No.1 team in the NRL for that long, we have to be doing something right and that was displayed against the Roosters,’’ he said.

“Are we perfect? No, not yet, but we are doing a lot of things right.

“It was a hell of an effort to hang in after we struggled in the first half to contain the Roosters.

“To go down to the wire, there has to be something good happening in the place.’’

Corey Parker, a member of the 2006 premiershi­p team, said the Broncos were well positioned to go all the way.

“We’re in a good place at the moment,” he said. “We can only be concerned with ourselves.’’

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