Broncos back depth despite loss
Their start to the 2017 State of Origin period didn't go to plan, but the Brisbane Broncos remain confident they have the squad to avoid a repeat of last year's drought through the representative season.
Without six frontline players due to commitments with Queensland, while also missing hooker Andrew McCullough through concussion, the Broncos fell to a heavy 28-10 defeat at the hands of the Warriors on Saturday night.
But despite his makeshift side failing to get the job done in Auckland, coach Wayne Bennett said Brisbane have the depth to ensure they should improve on last year's effort, which saw them pick up just two NRL Telstra Premiership victories through the Origin period.
"We have got a strong squad, we just didn't get it right here tonight, we had quality players out there… we are pretty healthy at the club [in terms of depth]," Bennett said.
"It's a tough time for us, it's Origin time and it's going to go on for two months now, we have got to be better than we were tonight.
"We had better players in that team [than the result suggests], we should have played better than what we did.
"We have been in this situation for 30-odd years, no one has provided more players than the Broncos to State of Origin, so no one knows the impact it has on the club better than I do.
"We have never used it as an excuse and we are not now."
Post-match Bennett lamented his side's 15 errors, which saw them complete just 59 per cent of their sets across the 80 minutes at Mount Smart Stadium.
The flow-on effect meant the Warriors bossed the possession count, while Brisbane missed 45 tackles. The Round 12 defeat was also the biggest score the Broncos have allowed an opponent to rack up on them since July last year.
"Just the mistakes, the errors, and defensively we were a bit loose," Bennett said.
"They [the Warriors] were getting a pretty good roll on against us, so they had a lot of opportunities."
Meanwhile veteran playmaker Benji Marshall, who made just his second first-grade appearance of the year in the defeat, believed the club's youngsters will have benefitted from the trip to Auckland.
Seven of the Broncos' players included in their 17 against the Warriors went into the match having played fewer than six NRL games this year.
"I think tonight was a learning curve for all of us to learn what we need to do to win those games, for a lot of the young guys they haven't experienced that physicality at that level enough," Marshall told NRL.com.
"They will learn a lot from tonight. There is always plenty of talk about us stepping up over this period, the Broncos as you know always have a fair amount of people in Origin and we have talked about that.
"We can be better, but on the whole it will be a learning curve for the squad."
The Broncos travel to Allianz Stadium to face the high-flying Sydney Roosters in Round 13.