Injury crisis the worst Bennett can remember
"It is what it is."
That's how Broncos coach Wayne Bennett responded when asked whether he could put his finger on what was going wrong for his side after they slumped to their seventh defeat in nine games with a 32-16 loss to the Roosters on Thursday night.
When pressed on the matter, Bennett said "is" was getting their best players on the field. When asked for the second reason, his reply was even simpler.
"The first one is enough."
There is no denying that the Broncos are doing it tough at the moment with injuries and suspensions ruling star trio Josh McGuire, Sam Thaiday and Matt Gillett out of the Round 21 clash.
While missing three Australian representatives from the starting forward pack was tough, the Broncos also had to overcome the loss of winger Lachlan Maranta to concussion after eight minutes, forcing a major reshuffle in the backline.
Tom Opacic was moved from left centre to right wing and Alex Glenn shifted to left centre, forcing veteran forwards Corey Parker (80 minutes) and Adam Blair (74) to play bigger minutes.
"We've gone through the worst patch I can ever remember as a coach just going through losing outside backs," Bennett said.
"Every game we've had since the Cowboys, which was about Round 7 or 8 or something [we've lost someone in the backs]. That had a huge impact on us tonight.
"We probably gave up three tries tonight that we probably wouldn't have given up if the guys that play in their normal positions were still there.
"You practise one way all week with those guys – particularly those edge players – and all of a sudden everyone's out of position again, and they struggle with that. It's just the nature of the game."
Broncos skipper Corey Parker agreed that the club's injury toll was a problem, but refused to use it as an excuse for their recent run of poor form.
"We've got seven of our top-line players not playing," he said.
"That's not an excuse; it's a learning curve for a lot of the players. Next week if we are to get some troops back, it's certainly going to benefit our team."
Both Thaiday and McGuire will be free to play next Thursday against the Dragons following their one week bans, while Gillett should play after missing the past three games with a shoulder injury.
Jordan Kahu (pec) is still a few weeks away, but Greg Eden is recovering well from a knee injury that he picked up in Round 16.
Bennett knows that the returning cavalry won't solve all of his side's problems, but admits it can only help.
"There's no guarantee [they will turn things around], but the quality of the players certainly helps the situation," he said.
"You get a winger back playing in his normal position, and Tom can go back to the centres. Things like that will help."