After a tough few months in which his future at the club has been constantly questioned, Scott Prince says he is feeling as good as ever after quashing suggestions that 2013 could be his final year and forging a promising new partnership with rising Broncos halfback Ben Hunt.
Down and out for the count just a few short weeks ago, Brisbane has clawed their way back into finals contention with two wins and a draw from their past three outings and can potentially close to within one point of the top eight should they account for last-placed Parramatta tonight as expected.
And Prince believes the arrival of Hunt – who has finally been given the opportunity to make the No.7 jersey his own – has played an important role in the side’s resurgence.
“The changes that ‘Hook’ made a few weeks ago and particularly bringing Benny in have only benefited the team,” Prince told NRL.com. “I guess the results speak for themselves. The past few weeks we’ve put in some better performances and some really good performances. In saying that too, it takes 1-17 to contribute to the team winning each week so it’s a matter of every person doing the job.
“But there is no doubt Benny is playing some good footy,” he continued. “He has that ability to play down the short side and count the numbers. He is really putting the opposition defence to the test and when we’re winning the ruck and creating opportunities from that, he’s really capitalising on those.
“In terms of my game, it means I can sit back a little bit more and get a feel for when to inject myself and defensively I’m just enjoying that challenge on the right edge and working hard with my combinations with the forwards.
“At the end of the day, that’s the ultimate goal. I’m not trying to do everyone else’s job. I’ve got a job to do and a role to play within the team and I just have to keep it as basic as that.”
Prince was rumoured to be on the outer at Brisbane given their largely disappointing season to date with reports claiming he has been told he wouldn’t play a big role in 2014. But having made it clear that he will be seeing out the remaining year on his contract, Prince appears to have usurped former halves partner Peter Wallace in the Broncos pecking order.
The former Cowboys, Tigers and Titans playmaker said he has now put those dramas behind him.
“I’m having fun,” he said. “Without going into too much of it – because I’m not thinking too much about it – I can honestly say that I’m enjoying my footy and I’m enjoying the challenge of trying to win each week and get ourselves into the finals.”
While the Broncos will be expected to beat the lowly Eels at Suncorp Stadium tonight, Prince said they hadn’t shied away from the task ahead or why they find themselves in such a precarious spot with four rounds remaining.
“I guess if you look back on the last few games, we basically put ourselves in a pretty tough position and it was a matter of kill or be killed, do or die,” he said of their recent run.
“Each game now – it’s the old cliché of taking each week as it comes and not looking too far ahead. We know we’ve got to win each time we go out and that’s the way it is.
“Obviously you’d like to have the runs on the board at the start of the year so that you could just focus on your football and be a little bit more relaxed but certainly this time of the season with where we sit on the ladder, we’ve spoken about the fact that every moment counts.
“There has to be a lot of desperation. We’re not out of the woods at all just yet but from here on in we hold our destiny in our own hands and we’ll be doing everything we can to get it done.”
If there is one side that won’t be taking the Eels lightly this week it is Brisbane, who saved perhaps their worst performance of 2013 for their Round 9 trip to Parramatta when they fell to an insipid 19-18 defeat.
Not surprisingly it was a piece of Jarryd Hayne brilliance that proved the difference and Prince said the Broncos wouldn’t be relaxing this time around.
“It wasn’t one of our best performances last time we played them,” Prince recalled. “They started like a house on fire and with Jarryd back now they have a really good team on paper. If you take them lightly they have the ability to put points on you.
“Jarryd is a danger and anyone of Jarryd Hayne’s calibre, whenever he comes into the team it is going to give everyone around him confidence. We saw that last week – he had some really good touches. He is a key player that we have to watch.
“So we have to turn up with the right attitude defensively, but if we do that and work for each other we should go alright.”
Although a win this week would thrust Brisbane right back into the finals mix, Prince said the side couldn’t afford to get ahead of themselves.
“We just have to win and more importantly we have to get our jobs done,” he said. “Where that leaves us, we’ll wait and see.”