Broncos' Maroons stars demand to play
Brisbane Broncos coach Wayne Bennett has been overruled by his senior players this week, with his Queensland Maroons contingent choosing to play against the Sydney Roosters on Saturday night, despite being told otherwise.
Bennett had planned to rest at least two of his State of Origin representatives after Queensland's 28-4 loss on Wednesday night, with forwards Sam Thaiday, Matt Gillett and Josh McGuire the favourites to have a spell.
But when approached this morning to be told of the news, Bennett's players answered back, refusing to take a week off and demanding to be on the plane to Sydney.
It means only Anthony Milford will miss this week's match as he recovers from concussion, with the Broncos set to field a near full strength side to try and get their second win over the Roosters this season.
The only other hiccup for Brisbane this week is the absence of Kodi Nikorima who will take a week off after suffering a minor shoulder injury in the Broncos' 28-10 loss to the New Zealand Warriors in Round 12.
Speaking to media on Friday, Bennett said he had no choice but to let his players play after they told him their wishes.
"Anthony is out and Benji [Marshall] is in. Kodi Nikorima is not quite right. He hurt his shoulder against the Warriors so he will only be a week. Jaydn Su'A will come onto the bench for him," Bennett said of his team's changes.
"I was very tempted to rest some of our forwards but I just couldn't convince them that they should miss the game.
"They were adamant they wanted to play which was really good. That made it difficult for me so I granted their wish.
"They won't be having a spell this week. They are fine.
"They might be a bit tired. I wanted to rest one or two this week but they wouldn't let me. They are great warriors and if I were in the same boat I'd want to play.
"I told a couple this morning that they weren’t playing but they didn't want to listen to that."
It is a welcome change for the Broncos to have most players available during the Origin period, but Bennett was quick to cut down suggestions this may become a regular occurrence, saying his Queensland players will need a week off at some point.
"They know what they are doing and they understand that they'll have to have a break at some point," he said.
"It obviously comes with the disappointment of Wednesday night and they just want to come back out and play football again."
Having to back up just three days after an Origin opener is a big ask and a unique part of the NRL.
While American sports such as basketball and baseball are played almost every day, these sports do not possess the same physicality as an 80-minute match of Origin football.
It is a fact echoed by Bennett who admitted he is still worried about the welfare of his players even though he has decided to let them play.
"It takes a toll. If it's not this week then it will be next week. They get worn down and fatigued. That's what happens," he said.
"The more they have to back up the more danger they have of having a six-eight week stage of poor performances because they haven't recovered properly from anything.
"There is no competition in the world that is elite like Origin and then has athletes going back two days later and playing again. There is usually a much greater period before they go out and play again."