Reed relishing fresh start under Bennett
Driven by a desire to win back the trust of his teammates, Broncos centre Jack Reed has revealed how a fresh start under Wayne Bennett has enabled him to produce the best form of his career.
Breaking a self-imposed media ban and speaking exclusively with NRL.com, Reed admitted that he had become complacent under former coach Anthony Griffin and began the 2015 pre-season determined to prove that he belonged in first grade.
Reed returns to the Broncos team to face Manly at Central Coast Stadium on Saturday after missing a week through suspension, but you sense that if he had missed Round 1 against the Rabbitohs he may have found it difficult to force his way into the team at all.
With a new coach in Bennett who was still to be convinced of his attributes – "I had lots of thoughts about Jack," Bennett said in June – Reed threw himself into a torturous pre-season with almost manic delight, barking encouragement to his teammates as he pushed his own physical limitations further than he ever had before.
The result is a season in which he is averaging 20 more metres per game than he did last year, has surpassed his total tally of offloads and has eight line breaks and six try assists to go with seven tries, all the while ensuring Bennett continues to read his name out each Tuesday.
Admitting this week that he was nervous about being brought straight back into a team that had disposed of the Titans 34-0 in his absence, Reed said that it was the recognition of complacency in his approach to the game that caused him to change things on and off the field.
"I probably got a bit complacent which I wasn't happy with and I wanted to take my game to another level," Reed told NRL.com.
"It was just a fresh start. If it hadn't been Wayne it would have been another coach.
"You just want to impress and get the best out of yourself and see why you deserve to be playing first grade. It's not Wayne necessarily, it was just the fresh start.
"You sometimes get too comfortable with your position which is never a good thing and it shows that other people deserve your spot. I just came out with the intention to impress whoever was in charge.
"I worked a lot harder in the off-season to build my strength up in my shoulders. Obviously I've got a bit of a history with shoulder reconstructions and I just wanted to prove to the team that I deserved to be out there and that they wanted to play alongside me as well.
"I came in with the right mind-set and I sorted myself out both on and off the field."
Now 27 years of age and with 109 NRL games to his name, Reed's determination to impress the new coach didn't go unnoticed by the rest of the playing group.
Captain Justin Hodges complimented him on his change in body shape following Reed's stand-out performance against the Sea Eagles in Round 13 while halfback Ben Hunt said it was obvious in pre-season training that there was a greater resolve in the five-time England international.
"I noticed that he did work a lot harder," Hunt said. "I think he came into this pre-season believing that he might not be in the side and that drove him to really have a great off-season and train hard and it's really shown in his footy.
"He wanted to come out and prove a point that he belonged to be in the team. He wanted to hold his spot down and I believe he did that.
"He got his shot to play and he hasn't let us down.
"I think he's had close to his best year for the club. Defensively he really locks that [left] side down. "It's definitely going to be a big lift for us [having him back]."
Having been tormented by him earlier in his career, Reed gets another shot at Sea Eagles opposite Jamie Lyon on Saturday with a left-side combination with Anthony Milford that flourishes more and more each week.
In Brisbane's 44-10 win over Manly in Round 13, Reed had two try assists, scored one of his own, ran for 128 metres and made 26 tackles in what was the third victory of the Broncos' current eight-game winning streak.
"There's a great belief in the club at the moment," Reed said. "If we're not scoring good points we know that our defence can keep them to a minimum and we can keep ourselves in the game and hopefully get the lucky bounce of the ball or a lucky carry to get us over the line.
"There's nothing too different at the moment [to last year], we're just all working hard for each other and that belief in the club at the moment is great.
"Winning is a habit and at the moment we're showing that."