Bennett praises platform for Bronco rebuild
Since his return to the Broncos was announced last August he has been hailed as the club's saviour and Brisbane's lofty ladder position through six rounds would suggest those proclamations were well founded.
Broncos fans have woken up on Saturday morning with their team sitting at the very top of the Telstra Premiership courtesy of their pulsating 22-18 win over the Roosters on Friday night.
Much of the credit has been directed towards the master coach that delivered six premierships (including Super League in 1997) in the club's first 21 years but Bennett himself insists the groundwork for a resurgence was laid by those who kept the coach's chair warm for the past six years.
And, as he often is when it comes to anything remotely relating to the game of rugby league, Bennett is right.
Anthony Griffin took the Broncos to within one game of the grand final in 2011 and even last year, as his tenure became weekly fodder for the circling media, each round his players turned in a committed performance and challenged the very best teams in the NRL.
Making do with makeshift five-eighths all season, the Broncos' eighth-place finish could very easily have been much higher so when Bennett took over it was a task of turning narrow losses into confidence-infusing victories rather than an extreme makeover.
"What you've got to understand about the Broncos, the Broncos haven't been too far away from it," Bennett explained after guiding the Broncos to a 5-1 start to 2015.
"I haven't come in here and reinvented the wheel. I was part of 21 years of what we did create here but after that the coaches that did the interim job, they weren't as bad as you guys probably wrote about them.
"I didn't come into a basket-case; the club wasn't a basket-case when I came back and they've done a good job with the boys. We just added a few little things to it.
"We didn't have to climb a huge mountain here. I've been to clubs where I've had to climb a huge mountain; this is not one of them."
Even in heartbreaking defeat, Roosters coach Trent Robinson was able to share an outsider's perspective on what Bennett and his players have been able to recapture in a relatively short space of time.
A Round 1 hiding at the hands of the defending premiers sent off some alarm bells around a hopeful Brisbane community but Robinson expects that Broncos fans will be cheering well into September if they're recent form can be maintained.
"They look comfortable, they look like they know what they're doing and they're competing hard," Robinson said.
"Wayne looks comfortable up here. I don't think he needs any raps but that's a nice way to start for them.
"He's getting the best out of [Anthony] Milford and [Ben] Hunt and [Andrew] McCullough's improved so they're looking like a good club.
"They're going to be pushing at the back-end of the year. I think everyone knows that this is his home and it looks like he's doing a good job."
What's been most impressive in the Broncos' compiling a five-match winning streak is that they have managed to maintain that momentum over the past fortnight without senior members Justin Hodges and Adam Blair.
In the post-match analysis of both of his side's past two wins Bennett has spoken of how much the side has missed the presence of Blair in particular and while those two men and fullback Jordan Kahu are in line to return against the Dragons next Friday night, the Broncos coach reserved special praise for the men who have taken their place.
"It epitomises what's happening in the place. He (Maranta) hadn't trained much at fullback, he's probably our fourth-choice fullback and he's been outstanding for us for the two weeks," Bennett said.
"We've got a winger (Corey Oates) there that's probably not a winger but he's doing a really good job for us, we miss Adam Blair enormously but someone else has put their hand up and that's what good clubs are made of.
"That's what I'm most pleased about, other guys putting their hands up and saying, 'I can get this job done for you coach. This is my opportunity and I'm going to take it.'"