The Final Word: Broncos v Dragons
The two coaches have their final say ahead of Friday night's clash plus the latest moves in the betting market and all the injury news.
Broncos coach Wayne Bennett on...
Importance of the minor premiership: "Nobody's discussed it really and it's not an issue for us. It's nice if you get them, they're hard to win because there's a lot of consistency required in order to do that but it's not something we're striving for at the moment. We just want to be in that top four. We're close to it, we've just about got it but we haven't got there yet. The target first of all is to get in the top four then you can progress from there, but until you get there it's just something in your mind that you're not going to achieve. So it's a myth."
How his players have reacted after two losses: "I think there's been a significant change. There's more enthusiasm around the place, that's the main thing, in terms of what they do with their training and that. They've been good there."
Whether Darius Boyd is back to his best: "I think he's back. He's certainly back, he does everything he can do and I don't think he's lacking any speed or confidence. He was outstanding at the Dragons in 2010 and he was outstanding at the Dragons in 2011 and he's playing well but I don't know if he's playing better than what he played then."
Dragons coach Paul McGregor on...
Benefit of spending the week in Brisbane: "It helps us all because logistically we don't spend too much time together outside of training because we've got guys who travel up to two hours to train with the Sydney and Wollongong-based players. Being away for nine days is good for everyone. We've had a really tough season and a lot of changes during the year and a lot of the guys haven't been regular first-graders for a long period of time, so to get them away in a nice environment where they can spend a lot of time together and get a lot of quality work in training-wise has been good."
How rookie half Drew Hutchison will handle Bronco traffic: "Any coach will do that because the fact is he hasn't been in that situation before and if you get put under pressure consistently and you haven't been in that situation, you're not sure how they're going to handle it. With young Drew, he's had one game against Cronulla but we were very under-strength that day and had nine other guys out. It wasn't a real indication of how good the player can be."
On coming out of a seven-week losing streak: "I was never too concerned about it because the playing group that we had had won eight out of nine games, so they knew that their ability was there, it was just about getting the right combinations back on the field. When you miss a month of footy or two weeks your timing's out and when your confidence and belief is down a touch and you haven't got that second wind, it takes a bit out of you."
Market update: This is the ultimate 50/50 game according to punters with Sportsbet. Money is split down the middle almost to the dollar as far as head-to-head betting is concerned. Not surprisingly, both sides have been equally backed to win 1-12 so punters expect a close one either way. Given how tight the match is shaping, it’s no surprise that 80 per cent of the money is on under 39.5 points to be scored in the game. Punters will be hoping Lachlan Maranta gets some early ball – half of the money invested on first try-scorer has gone on the Broncos winger.
Injury news: The Broncos will take the field 1-17 with Corey Oates not recovering sufficiently from a knee injury suffered against the Bulldogs last week. Although he was named earlier in the week, Benji Marshall won't play for the Dragons with his place in the team going to under-20s half Drew Hutchison. Dylan Farrell has not recovered from the back injury he suffered in the warm-up last week and was sent back to Sydney for scans on Thursday.