Brisbane’s players say they couldn’t care less about Wayne Bennett being in the opposition coaching box this weekend as they chase a NRL finals berth.
Brisbane know their future coach will be watching them at Suncorp Stadium on Saturday night and, frankly, they couldn’t care less.
Wayne Bennett will bring his Newcastle team to the home of the Broncos, aiming to all but end his future employer’s hopes of a NRL finals berth.
Given Bennett will take over at Brisbane at season’s end, his presence in the opposition coach’s box could be determined as an unwanted distraction for the home team.
The future of several players is still up in the air at the Broncos, and Bennett is sure to have one eye on the players he’ll coach next year.
One of those who is coming off contract is prop Ben Hannant but the 29-year-old says impressing Bennett is the last thing on his mind as the Broncos aim to bounce back from last weekend’s loss to South Sydney to keep their season alive.
That defeat to the Bunnies left the Broncos 10th on the ladder and two points outside the eight with three rounds to go.
“You don’t even think about it,” Hannant said of Bennett.
“We go to work every day. We compete and we try to beat our opposition, no matter who it is.
“One thing we do know is Wayne knows how to prepare a team. We know we’re going to come up against a committed, strong side that are in great form.
“It’s 17 players versus 17 players that have the final say … it’s not about us saying it – it’s about us doing it.”
Broncos co-captain Justin Hodges, a good friend of Bennett’s from the 64-year-old’s previous stint at the club, says the team is worried about the here and now, not what might happen in the future.
Hodges says they’ll have plenty to worry about dealing with the Knights, who have won six of their past eight games including upset wins over Melbourne and the Warriors.
Centre Dane Gagai reportedly wants to return to Brisbane alongside Bennett at the end of next season after his Newcastle contract expires and Hodges says he’ll be among the Knights’ threats on Saturday.
“He’s a great talent, Dane – he always has been,” Hodges said.
“They’ve got some quality backs all along the line. They’re missing Darius (Boyd), who obviously is a great player, but they’re led well by Gids (Kurt Gidley) and Mullo (Jarrod Mullen).
“They’re going to come up here and throw everything at us.”