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Mate v mate: Bennett and Bellamy face off

Mate v mate: Bennett and Bellamy face off

Mate versus mate.

It is the saying so often used in State of Origin and on Friday night it will ring true in finals football when the Brisbane Broncos take on the Melbourne Storm in a do-or-die preliminary final. 

 

‌13 of the players taking part in the finals blockbuster played for the Queensland Maroons in 2017, with this amazing statistic only bettered by the long history between the two opposition coaches. 

Broncos coach Wayne Bennett and Storm coach Craig Bellamy go back a long way, first uniting in 1998 when Bellamy joined Brisbane as an assistant coach. 

Bellamy impressed during his five years under Bennett and his credentials soon caught the eye of Melbourne officials who offered him a head-coaching role that started in 2003. 

Since then Bellamy has been a thorn in the side of Bennett, with Melbourne's master coach dominating at club level. 

Bennett's win record against Bellamy currently stands 32.3 per cent – the second lowest of Bennett's club coaching career (minimum of 10 games).

Bennett has only fared worse against Penrith coach Anthony Griffin who he defeated in Brisbane's last start semi-final win to lift that percentage to 25 per cent. 

The question now is whether Bennett can defy the odds two weeks in a row.

He is confident he can, even telling media the formula to beat the Storm and his "good mate".

"We're good mates when we aren't playing football against each other," Bennett said. 

"He coaches a highly disciplined team that's extremely well-drilled. They all know their roles. They all do their jobs. 

"We've had our victories but they are a quality footy team that's hard to beat. We know what we are up against. A lot of these guys play Origin together so they know the quality of the people they are up against. 

"You have to be calm [to beat Melbourne]. You need that confidence that you can get the job done when it's all going against you because it will go against us tomorrow night at different stages. 

"We have to make sure at those times we don't get a lot of points put on us. Patience is all part of that package."

The Broncos have been bolstered by the return of their captain Darius Boyd and he is sure to bring a calming influence at fullback. 

Boyd missed two matches with a hamstring injury but has trained at 100 per cent all week, leaving Bennett satisfied that his No.1 would be at his best come Friday.

"Darius brings experience and calmness. He'll have the right mindset. He'll be good," he said.

"I think there's a lot more in this team yet. It's just trying to get it out of them. 

"I think we are in pretty good shape. We've got some players back and have some confidence from last week." 

 

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