Roosters loss made our season: Bennett
On the eve of their sudden-death Preliminary Final blockbuster at Suncorp Stadium on Friday night Broncos coach Wayne Bennett has thanked Trent Robinson's Roosters for showing his team what it would take to become premiers.
Only a handful of tickets remain for the meeting of the two best teams through the regular season which all but guarantees two crowds of in excess of 50,000 for a finals series at Suncorp Stadium for the first time in the club's history.
When the Roosters last visited Suncorp Stadium in Round 6 a Ben Hunt try in golden-point extra-time was all that separated the two teams but Bennett believes his team got more out of their 12-10 loss to the Tricolours in Sydney in Round 24.
With a five-day turnaround before playing the Rabbitohs Bennett's men spent the week between games in Sydney before thumping the defending premiers 47-12, a defining moment in their season according to the master coach.
"That five days we spent in Sydney was the making of our season," Bennett said in his pre-match press conference on Thursday. "Hopefully we get the benefits here [Friday] night of that.
"I know what it meant to them and when they came out the other side of it they certainly realised what was in front of them but they also realised what they could deliver.
"Sometimes you lose but you win."
The Roosters' Round 24 win was Robinson's fourth in six games against Bennett-coached teams but the Brisbane mentor is very confident in the team he will send out on Friday night with a grand final berth within reach.
Bennett declared the squad of 17 named on Tuesday in such good shape that the club physiotherapist hasn't been required for the past 48 hours – "That's just about unheard of for a football team" – and that mentally they are in a good space.
He is under no illusions that the challenge ahead of the Broncos is a difficult one but said their ability to stay in the contest until the very end cannot be questioned.
"If we stick to what we know works for us tomorrow night and there's only a few points in it with 10 or 15 minutes to go I know whose side I want to be on," Bennett said.
"These guys will be playing the same tempo. We're definitely an 80-minute team, there's no doubt about that.
"You've only got to see the way that we finish over other teams late in the game.
"I just want to be in that position."
That the Broncos are one of four teams left vying for the 2015 Telstra Premiership is a feat Bennett wasn't sure they were capable of until two months into the season when Origin and Test star Darius Boyd rejoined a team flying high on the top of the table.
"I wanted to be here but I probably didn't think it was going to happen so quickly," Bennett conceded as Brisbane seek a first grand final appearance since 2006. "But you take what comes along and I'm more than pleased with what they've done.
"Darius didn't play for us in the first seven weeks and we had a couple of other key injuries in that period of time and guys kept putting their hands up and showing me that they wanted to play well.
"We were playing well and playing quality teams and holding our own so I thought after six or seven weeks [they could go a long way].
"We just wanted to get better and we went about that process.
"They've done the work and put the hard yards in, it wasn't any grand plan I can tell you."