Broncos wary of post-Origin slump
The men responsible for getting the Broncos through the traditionally difficult Origin period undefeated have vowed not to take their foot off the pedal now that they have come through the other side.
While Josh McGuire is a long-term casualty, Brisbane's other Origin stars – Corey Parker, Sam Thaiday, Justin Hodges, Darius Boyd and Matt Gillett – are all set to play against the Wests Tigers at Suncorp Stadium on Sunday, the first time those five have played together at club level since Round 10.
Since the 'Baby Broncos' accounted for the Knights in Round 11 in Newcastle, Brisbane have constructed a six-game winning streak that has seen them reach 30 competition points after 18 rounds for the first time in the club's history.
It's an enviable position to be in eight weeks from the start of the Finals Series but Kiwi back-rower Alex Glenn says it is now crucial not to let that buffer slip away.
"Very proud of that; it's always been a hard part of our season each year," Glenn said of their performance through the Origin period. "We do lose some big, key players in our team and to go through that Origin period unscathed and apart from Josh McGuire getting a terrible injury all the players have come out and recovered pretty well.
"It's been a great part of our year this year and now that's behind us we've got to focus on the back-end of our season. We've got some tough games in front of us and we've got to take it week by week."
Jordan Kahu has now played a dozen games in an NRL season for the first time in his young career and said that coach Wayne Bennett has been reminding the playing group of just how unstable their current spot at the top of the Telstra Premiership can be, sitting the players down and addressing them after Thursday's training session for which Parker, Thaiday, Gillett and Boyd were all absent.
"We know that the ladder is so tight at the moment and any teams can jump right up there so we've just got to keep training hard and hopefully stay No.1," Kahu said.
"The top eight, even the top four just out of the eight, are quite close so anyone can be knocked off at any time and there are still a lot of games left.
"You can't be complacent; you've just got to keep going well."
In the absence of their Origin stars the likes of Kahu, Jack Reed, Andrew McCullough and the two halves, Ben Hunt and Anthony Milford have taken ownership of the football team and have notched wins over the Knights (twice), Raiders, Sea Eagles, Storm and Bulldogs.
The 24-year-old said that Bennett hadn't put any extra pressure on them to guide the team through the middle of the season but those left behind knew what was needed of them.
"He didn't really say anything but we all knew what we had to do and if we wanted our season to go well then the younger players coming into the side had to step up and I think we did that," said Kahu, who will line up on the wing on Sunday due to the return of Hodges in the centres.
"Obviously the past few years everyone thinks of the Broncos going not so well in Origin period and it definitely lifts you winning all those games.
"That's the depth that we have at the club and the amount of players that can back up for the Origin players.
"Obviously with those players gone the boys have stepped up and they're going to have to do that again even when they are back.
"It's going to be good to see what we can do with the boys back."