Bennett unsure Brisbane can maintain form
Brisbane Broncos coach Wayne Bennett has slammed his side's schedule heading into the State of Origin period.
Brisbane's Origin representatives will play three games in eight days, consisting of Game One of the Origin series, as well as their regular season matches in Rounds 13 and 14.
These fixtures will involve trips to Sydney, Brisbane and New Zealand; followed by a similar scenario between Game Two and Rounds 16 and 17 when his team's best players will take the field three times in nine days.
Bennett says the Broncos' schedule is not fair on his players, insisting that the same issue has plagued other teams in the past.
"We have a bigger challenge than just playing footy after Origin. We have to play three games in eight days and then three games in nine days," Bennett said.
"This is happening to all of our very best players. We have to be in Sydney and Auckland.
"Five- or four-day turnarounds are not the issue; the issue is how much you have to give during that time. The compounding effect is two or three weeks after these short breaks and you just can't play.
"I have no doubt that Melbourne played poorly in the preliminary final last year because of long road trips over short turnarounds earlier in the season.
"They got through those at the time but were flat weeks later because of it. I'm confident we will cope, but I just know the challenges in front of us now."
Brisbane will face the North Queensland Cowboys this Friday at 1300SMILES Stadium and the match kicks off a hard two months for the Broncos.
Bennett's side won every match during the State of Origin period in 2015, but the master coach fears this feat may not be possible this year.
"I'm worried about what this is going to do to our season," he said.
"If you look at the record books of the Broncos, nearly every season we are near the top before Origin and then finish all over the shop after Origin.
"We got away with it last year and I'm not overly confident we will do the same this year. The reality is that we have to deal with it."
In a timely boost, Brisbane welcome back wounded troops Alex Glenn and Andrew McCullough, as well as the previously suspended Adam Blair.
All eyes will be on Blair, with the New Zealand international being reported in his last two matches.