Super-sub Sam back in good books
Broncos enforcer Sam Thaiday has won back the admiration of coach Wayne Bennett after he was singled out for criticism after Round 1 of the Telstra Premiership, but it won't help him regain his spot in the starting team.
Such has been Thaiday's influence when used off the bench in the past month that Bennett looks certain to keep him there in order to give his 17 the best possible balance throughout the course of 80 minutes.
Named to start in the front row, Thaiday was once again forced to cool his heels on the pine as the match kicked off but had an instant impact when introduced prior to the 20-minute mark, helping to shore up the Brisbane defence and then laying on a line-break for Lachlan Maranta to put Anthony Milford away for the game's first try in the 24th minute.
It was a Thaiday charge close to the line that led directly to the first of Mitchell Dodds's two tries and after being publicly castigated a month ago received high praise from Bennett for his contribution to the 26-16 victory, Brisbane's fourth on the trot.
"He's like Corey [Parker], they're both outstanding and they're playing great football at the moment. I couldn't be more pleased with the pair of them," Bennett said.
"I couldn't put that bench out there. I couldn't put an inexperienced bench there and have key players off the ground at vital times in the game and think we could be effective.
"It's a matter of keeping him (Parker) on when we need him, getting Sam there when we need him and having them both there as much as we can.
"The bottom line is we're just not an experienced enough pack without the senior players there to get them around the park."
The next assignment for the Broncos is against one of the competition heavyweights in the Roosters next Friday night but they go in showing great resilience in defence and with a growing confidence in their attack.
The Broncos moved into third spot on the ladder with their 10-point win over the Titans but stand-in captain Parker said they are under no illusions of how much improvement is still required to challenge the top teams.
"It's certainly nice; you'd rather win than lose. There's a good vibe within the group," Parker said of the momentum growing on the back of their 4-1 start.
"The satisfying thing for us is that no one is resting on their laurels. We still understand we're a long way from where we want to be but it's nice to be able to get results along the way."
Added Bennett: "I don't see the Roosters as a yardstick. They're a quality football team and they're really good and they're up there with the Rabbitohs but it will be later in the year that those things will start to matter.
"We're starting to know where we're at without worrying too much about the opposition right now."