Is Bennett just trying to deflect some pressure? (AAP Image/Dave Hunt)
Is Bennett just trying to deflect some pressure? (AAP Image/Dave Hunt)

Kent: Signs Wayne Bennett is under pressure

A READING from Saint Wayne, on the Broncos, circa 2007 A.D.:

"Our policy was to nurture Queensland talent, bring our own juniors along, and if we were to recruit we would only buy the best - we wouldn't take on other people's problems."

Things have changed a bit at the Broncos since then.

The Broncos were the reigning premiers when Saint Wayne, under the earthly nom de plume of Wayne Bennett, was explaining to us all why the Broncos are so successful.

They were high and mighty and entitled to feel a little successful.

It no longer applies.

 

The Broncos have not won a premiership since then, and the club's ability to entice the best talent from the Queensland junior leagues has fallen behind superior programs at both Melbourne and North Queensland.

Wayne Bennett has adopted a siege mentality already. (AAP Image/Dave Hunt)
Wayne Bennett has adopted a siege mentality already. (AAP Image/Dave Hunt)

So when James Roberts became available, despite being sacked from two clubs and Saint already having pledged a centre position to Dale Copley, Copley was out the door and Roberts was in.

A similar shift in stance came for Matt Lodge, whose history is well documented.

It is example of what pressure can do. It takes only heat and pressure can turn a chunk of coal into a diamond, and just a little of each to have a coach changing the ground on which he stands.

Saint Wayne's attempts to blame the Broncos early season woes on us pesky rascals in the media was first class media spin.

Bennett didn’t mind taking on Matt Lodge’s problems. (AAP Image/Dave Hunt)
Bennett didn’t mind taking on Matt Lodge’s problems. (AAP Image/Dave Hunt)

"There is no other club in any sport in this country who would have pulled together in the last couple of weeks after all the adversity that we have been through," he said.

Really?

A week earlier the Broncos were under fire for the poor handling of Lodge's return. No fight against adversity then, the week it actually happened. They played terribly.

They let in 34 points against St George Illawarra with weak defence and an attack that went side to side.

Bennett later admitted he made a mistake starting with Sam Thaiday at dummy-half with Andrew McCullough coming off the bench.

He excused his halves' poor performances, saying it's hard for any halves to perform behind a retreating pack, even though that's what they are paid to sometimes do.

The Dragons gave Brisbane an early shock. (Mark Kolbe/Getty Images)
The Dragons gave Brisbane an early shock. (Mark Kolbe/Getty Images)

Later he gave both halves an expletive-laden spray at training, in full view of the media.

Meanwhile, he convinced his players it was the media who were the problem all along.

"You guys bagged us so you can take the credit for that," Tevita Pangai Jr said after they beat North Queensland. "Keep bagging us every week and we'll play harder to win."

What does it say about a professional, player or team, that it needs media criticism to perform at their best?

Bennett has convinced them, though. Never mind the Broncos' troubles were entirely self-inflicted, brought about through arrogance and excessive pride.

It's evidenced in Bennett claiming, in his sermon from the Mount, that no other club in the country could have done what they did.

Pangai followed Bennett track after the derby win. (AAP Image/Darren England)
Pangai followed Bennett track after the derby win. (AAP Image/Darren England)

A fair-minded person would argue Penrith has endured more adversity than the Broncos.

The Panthers released their two star juniors, Matt Moylan and Bryce Cartwright, over the summer after they fell out with the club.

Speculation continues over the future of coach Anthony Griffin and who actually coaches the team.

And yet the Panthers overcame all their adversity, if that's what it is, with two tough come-from-behind wins in the opening two rounds.

Manly is another. The Sea Eagles went into this season $800,000 below the salary cap because the NRL is investigating them for salary cap irregularities and has refused to allow them to spend money, with the possibility that points might still be deducted.

It makes times a little tougher than a few hurtful comments.

Anthony Griffin’s Penrith have been dealt tougher blows. (AAP Image/Paul Miller)
Anthony Griffin’s Penrith have been dealt tougher blows. (AAP Image/Paul Miller)

The irony hidden in all this is that the man under most pressure at Brisbane is Bennett.

A third party has approached Paul Green about coaching Brisbane - so the Broncos can truthfully say they have not approached Green and Green can truthfully answer that he has not been approached by the Broncos.

He is privately fighting for his job, so preaches solidarity within.

"You will never divide us guys, so stay out of it," he said after the Cowboys win.

"Our strength is our club and our people."

What was he suggesting? That it was personal? That it was wrong?

Nobody knows, because even as he said it he was standing and walking out and ignoring the follow-up questions.

It was Saint Wayne at his superior best. He had saved it up and delivered it with perfect timing ... so he did not have to answer to it.



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