Bennett torn by selection headache
He has faced selection dilemmas throughout his 40-year coaching career yet Wayne Bennett admits the prospect of dropping David Mead ahead of his first match against his former club is one he is dreading.
Hours after the Titans were dumped from the 2016 Telstra Premiership by Brisbane, Gold Coast's leading try-scorer announced he was heading up the M1 to join the Titans' bitter rivals where the Papua New Guinea captain was expected to find a home on the Broncos' right wing.
But after a disappointing showing at the World Club Series Mead was overlooked for Round 1 and had to wait until last Thursday's 32-8 victory over the Roosters to line up for the Broncos for the first time where he put in a typically high-energy display.
He broke through the Roosters defence with his first kick return of the game and finished it with his side's final try, accumulating 174 run metres, five tackle breaks and two line breaks in a triumphant club debut.
But with Corey Oates expected to have recovered from a groin injury in time to line up against the Titans on Good Friday at Suncorp Stadium, Mead is in danger of being squeezed out of Bennett's 17.
"I thought he was outstanding. I loved what he did," Bennett said of Mead's first game as a Bronco.
"It's a pretty difficult decision to make because Corey's a pretty fair player for us too so we'll just see what the week brings.
"I'm not looking forward to leaving him out of the team I can tell you if I have to.
"But he'll get plenty of opportunities if he doesn't get one next week."
After playing the first 147 games of his NRL career with the Titans the chance to line up against his former club makes Mead even more desperate to hold his place in the team than usual.
Told to wait until the end of the 2016 season before the Titans would discuss a new contract, Mead made the heart-wrenching decision to sign a one-year deal with Brisbane and vow to earn a longer and more lucrative deal for 2018 and beyond.
He emphasised his class against the Roosters but knows it still might not be enough to earn a second start this week.
"Obviously I'm still hoping to play in the NRL side but if it doesn't happen I'll still have to work hard and see what I need to improve on," Mead said.
"I'd love to [play against the Titans]. Obviously the old club and a couple of old teammates in there that I'd love to play against."
All throughout the Broncos' pre-season it appeared as though Jordan Kahu would be the preferred option at left centre with Mead to take Kahu's place on the right wing.
But when Mead by his own admission performed below expectations in England Bennett returned Kahu to the wing and promoted Tautau Moga to start at left centre, leaving Mead to the unfamiliar surroundings of Intrust Super Cup with Wynnum-Manly.
"I didn't perform that well over there and understandably Wayne went with Tau and thought he'd go with some size which is fair enough and that's been working from the start," said Mead.
"An opportunity opened up for me and hopefully I've done enough to stay in the side.
"It was a relief. I've obviously had to stay pretty patient the first couple of weeks and when Wayne told me I was playing tonight I was pretty excited.
"I was pretty happy with the way I performed. Obviously a couple of defensive things that Tau and I could have done better to stop those tries but overall I'm pretty happy.
"I've been playing in the Q Cup the past few weeks and those guys have been tremendous out at Wynnum Seagulls.
"They make playing footy very enjoyable, great bunch of blokes over there so that makes it easier when you're not playing in the NRL."