Broncos not haunted by Storm thrashing
Brisbane coach Wayne Bennett says the Broncos' record-breaking 48-6 loss to Melbourne in Round 17 means nothing heading into Friday night's rematch at AAMI Park.
That was a night to forget for Brisbane, with Bennett's men suffering their worst-ever loss at Suncorp Stadium as the Storm piled on eight tries to the Broncos' one.
A big contributor to that loss was Melbourne halfback Cooper Cronk, with the Australian international putting on a masterclass performance that included five try assists.
Three of those came from kicks to winger Suliasi Vunivalu who had a virtually unopposed night in the air because of an early injury to his direct opponent Corey Oates.
Brisbane lost Oates to concussion in the 19th minute and it meant utility Kodi Nikorima had to shift to the wing to cover for the 21-year-old.
Nikorima is just 174cm tall – a number that seems even smaller when stacked up against the 192cm Vunivalu.
It's for that reason that Bennett doesn't think much of the Storm's record win, instead putting the result down to Oates's injury and the handy work of Cronk and Melbourne captain Cameron Smith.
"I haven't thought much about the last time we played. It was a pretty unique game," Bennett said.
"I've been coaching a long time and I've never had a situation like the one we found ourselves in.
"They exploited it as well as any team I've ever seen exploit an injury.
"It was a pretty big dilemma so I don’t think either side can take much out of that much.
"Cronk and Smith are very smart. It would be a luxury to have those guys in your side.
"They exploited a situation we had no control over. It wasn't our fault but it just shows that you can't show any weaknesses against a side like Melbourne."
Brisbane will be hoping to have 17 healthy troops for the full 80 minutes as they try and prevent the Storm from sealing the minor premiership.
A win for the Broncos will keep their top four hopes alive and Bennett has called for his side to show patience come Friday night's vitally important clash, believing that Brisbane will have no chance of getting the two points if they become impatient and lose focus of what they are trying to achieve.
"We need to be patient," he said.
"Impatience kills any chance you have of winning. It plays into their hands.
"If we can be patient Friday night then we'll have a chance.
"Everything will be hard earned and we know that. Our mindset is firmly set on being patient."
Patience is something Brisbane captain Corey Parker has taught himself over his 16 years in the NRL, and he will be sure to be leading from the front as he plays possibly his last game in Melbourne.
Parker's impending retirement from the game is sure to be a motivating factor for the Broncos, but an injury scare at training on Thursday had many thinking they might have been without him for Friday's match.
The 34-year-old rolled his ankle and limped off the field on Thursday, but he returned moments later to the relief of the small crowd gathered to watch Brisbane train.
Bennett has given Parker the all clear to take the field on Friday night, with the Broncos set to be unchanged once again.
"Corey will be okay to play. He tweaked his ankle a little bit, but everybody says that he should be right to go," Bennett said.
"Everybody is fit so the team will be unchanged. An unchanged team is very important because it gets the side used to playing with each other and that gives them confidence in one another."