Griffin's role in Broncos revival
Whether they finish as premiers or runners-up, nothing can take away what Wayne Bennett has achieved with the Broncos in 2015.
It seems like a lifetime ago since Bennett described his newly inherited side as "predictable at being unpredictable" after their 30-point loss to Rabbitohs in Round 1.
Within the space of 11 months Bennett has transformed an under-achieving Brisbane team into the dominant force they once were before the master coach first left the club seven years ago.
So it came as no surprise when Bennett was recognised for his achievements after being named coach of the year at Monday night's Dally M awards.
Although Brisbane's weekly team sheet has one 'W. Bennett' listed down the bottom in the coaches column, the building blocks for the Broncos' success this season were laid by former coach Anthony Griffin according to a couple of players who know him well.
Broncos hooker Andrew McCullough and interchange prop Mitchell Dodds worked with Griffin since they first joined the club as under-20s players at the beginning of 2008.
Before Griffin left the club to make way for Bennett at the end of last year, Brisbane's former coach had overseen the transition of a number of key Broncos who had risen through the club's under-20s ranks.
Aside from McCullough and Dodds, Ben Hunt, Alex Glenn and the injured Josh McGuire make up the surviving core group of players that Griffin mentored as an under-20s, assistant and head coach over the course of seven seasons.
"To be honest there wasn't a whole lot wrong with the joint before Wayne got here," McCullough told NRL.com.
"'Hook' [Griffin] had done an amazing job and he created a lot of us as players. That hard work when turning up to training was implemented from him and obviously also with the [senior]guys in front of us when Wayne was previously here.
"There was a good balance there and Wayne has come in and put his touch on things as well.
"But a lot of praise has to go to 'Hook' for what he did for a lot of players in this team at the moment."
Griffin left the Broncos with a 53 per cent win record as coach after guiding the club to 54 wins, 46 losses and one draw during his four-season, 101-game stint between 2011 and 2014.
While that pales in comparison to Bennett's 64 per cent win rate as coach before he left for the Dragons, Griffin matched his successors' 2015 win record of 73 per cent during his first season in charge.
In that season – Darren Lockyer's final year before retirement – Griffin took the Broncos to within one win of the Grand Final, eventually going down to the Sea Eagles in the Preliminary Final minus their influential and injured skipper.
For outgoing prop Dodds, who will leave for Super League club Warrington Wolves on a one-year deal next season, Griffin's influence hasn't been forgotten around Red Hill.
"Griffin did do a lot of work with us – we had him for a long time– so I think there's a fair bit we can look to him although you can't take anything away from Wayne," Dodds said.
The 26-year-old said Bennett broke the ice early during pre-season which helped with the coaching transition for the younger players who had never played under the seven-time premiership winner.
"I had Griffin as a coach since 2008 and you become comfortable with the coach and you know how he works," he said.
"So with Wayne around the club it was a bit different and I didn't know what to expect but he broke down those barriers pretty quickly and I became pretty good friends with him.
"He made that easy for all the boys in pre-season with the expectations he wanted and what we wanted. Everyone has matured and we've played a lot of footy together and I think that works as well with everyone looking after each other.
"The way he has coached us this year and implemented a lot of things has helped as well."