Caretaker Brisbane captain Alex Glenn says the Broncos have learnt from their dramatic late-season collapse last season but admits it will count for zero if they can’t navigate their way through the State of Origin period unscathed.
The Broncos play their first game of the year minus their Origin stars on Monday night against the Warriors, needing a win to stay in touch with the top eight.
Last year they emerged from the Origin period with a respectable 4-3 record before falling in a heap with six losses from their past seven games to barely scrape into the finals.
“It’s a long season and we let a few things slide last year in terms of recovery and the way we played as well, so we faded away at the back end of the season,” Glenn told NRL.com. “We want to make sure that we don’t make that mistake this year.
“I think last year we actually handled the Origin period pretty well. The boys really stepped up and we got a couple of victories which was a big confidence boost so I think that if we do perform well in this Origin period we will have created a great platform for when the Origin boys do come back, to head into the back end of the season.
“It’s always a tough time for the Broncos but in saying that it’s a great opportunity for some of the other guys to come in and get an opportunity in the NRL. It’s an exciting time for them.”
Brisbane take on the Warriors this week without the core of their forward pack – Sam Thaiday, Corey Parker, Josh McGuire and Matt Gillett – as well as strike centre Justin Hodges. Also, Ben Hannant is sidelined with injury.
That means the onus will now be on the likes of Glenn himself, who played his 100th NRL game earlier in the season, to fill that leadership void.
“I do see myself as one of the leaders once the Origin boys are out and it’s a great opportunity for me, Macca (Andrew McCullough) and Peter Wallace to really step up,” he said. “I look forward to these games. Not many have faith in our team and it’s good to surprise everyone.”
Glenn said he had worked hard on playing a bigger role for the Broncos this season, with his season stats revealing he is playing more minutes (78.5), making more metres (117) and more tackles (24) per game than ever before.
“I think every year you try and better yourself from previous years and I’ve been trying to get myself a bit more involved on the field,” he explained. “And I tell you what, my gas blows out very quick but I just try and push through. It’s a mental thing but I think once I get through that I’ll be a better player. It’s just trying to better my performance each week.
“We’re a very strong club in the back row so you’ve got to play some consistent football otherwise there is plenty of depth in the position to take your place. You’ve got to keep pushing those boundaries.”
First on the agenda for Brisbane this week will be getting some consistency back into their game, having won just once in their past four outings after winning three in a row before that.
They currently sit in ninth on the Telstra Premiership ladder behind Penrith on points differential, but will be well aware that Canterbury and Canberra are also breathing down their neck.
“It has been up and down this year and that’s something we really need to fix,” Glenn said.
“We’re working our hardest to improve that and we’re working on our defence. We’re letting some teams score too many tries and we need to take some pride in our defensive line. We need to make sure that our philosophy leading into this Origin period is all about working hard and doing what is required for the team.”
The Warriors head into Monday night’s clash on a high after rebounding from their embarrassing 62-6 loss to Penrith two weeks ago to upset Newcastle 28-12 last Sunday and Glenn said he was predicting a particularly physical encounter.
“A lot of people doubted them but they came out and proved they can still have a say in this competition,” he said. “It’s always a tough game against the Warriors because the Kiwi boys love getting in amongst it and bringing a physical game to Suncorp Stadium.
“But me personally, I love playing against the Warriors because I have a lot of friends there. It’s always fun to play against your friends but at the same time there are bragging rights there as well.”