Bennett coaching drama driving Broncos’ late season surge
THE Broncos are using coach Wayne Bennett's public knifing as fuel for their premiership tilt after emerging as the hottest team in the NRL heading into the finals.
The Broncos have rocketed into NRL premiership contention following a turbulent six months on the back of stirring wins against top-four teams the Rabbitohs and Roosters.
Brisbane are now the form team of the NRL and can secure a home semi-final with a win in their last-round clash against struggling Manly at Suncorp Stadium on Sunday.
The Courier-Mail can reveal a key factor in Brisbane's late season form surge is the team's desire to save Bennett's coaching career at Red Hill.
The 811-game coach has spectacularly fallen out with Broncos hierarchy over the club's decision to knock back a one-year proposal for Bennett to finish his career in 2020.
Bennett's rejection has divided heavy hitters at the Broncos, but at the same time galvanised his group of loyal players.
The Broncos have turned their season around since Bennett's infamous gathering to rival CEO Paul White's club barbecue this month and centre James Roberts said the team was playing for its coach.
"One hundred per cent, everyone here plays for Wayne and loves playing for Wayne," he said.
"A lot of the boys respect him and show their pride for Wayne every week.
"We've believed from day one (that we can win the premiership).
''We're slowly getting where we want to be and at the right time of the year as well."
Bennett, 68, is in his 25th season coaching the Broncos and has been at the helm for all of the club's six premierships.
The board's decision to reject his proposal for a 2020 swan song sent shockwaves through Red Hill and appeared to destabilise the club as the Broncos lost to bottom-four outfits Canterbury and North Queensland.
Bennett has since turned around Brisbane's fortunes and said he had been blown away by his players' support during the drama.
"They have been wonderful to me," Bennett said.
"They have been supportive, but I don't think that's the reason (we are winning).
''They are just coming together as a group.
"We lost some quality players last year that everyone forgets very quickly.
''We lost Ben Hunt (Dragons), Adam Blair (Warriors).
"We've had a lot of injuries this year and a lot of kids coming into the team.
''It takes time to evolve.
"We've been in that place.
''We're hanging in.
''All of a sudden we're getting a little bit of form and look like we can do something."
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