Beaten Broncos feel wrath of Wayne
A vocal Wayne Bennett has demanded his players lift their intensity at training in order to find the energy required to progress in the finals series with their season to go on the line against the Panthers at Suncorp Stadium on Friday night.
After a weekend to reflect on their 24-22 qualifying final loss to the Roosters last Friday the Broncos were put through an arduous one-hour field session designed to rectify the frailties that have been exposed early in recent games.
Both Darius Boyd and Tevita Pangai Jnr failed to train with the main squad but are a chance to line up against Penrith with Kodi Nikorima spending the majority of the session in the fullback position.
Once the shrieks of laughter had died down from a couple of warm-up drills that resembled volleyball and tunnel ball, an animated Bennett went to work on repairing a defence that has twice in the past three weeks leaked more points early in games than they have been able to chase down.
In Round 25 the Eels stunned Brisbane to lead 24-0 after just 20 minutes and again against the Roosters the Broncos were slow out of the blocks, falling behind by 14 points one quarter of the way through the contest.
It's a worrying trend at the wrong time of the year and back-rower Matt Gillett knows they must find a remedy to their flagging energy levels in the coming days.
"Wayne was pretty hard on us this morning and I think that was a good thing to get us back into gear for what's head with Penrith," Gillett said.
"It was pretty intense and pretty physical as well, getting bodies in front. We had a lot of energy this morning and we'll work through that the whole week.
"You play the way you train so if we're going to train like that all week and come out on Friday night we know we've done that job here, it's just a matter of doing it at Suncorp for 80 minutes and getting that result."
Rather than an angry NRL coach winger Jordan Kahu said Bennett most resembled a disappointed parent after the loss to the Roosters, describing his disappointment in his players as "up there" with anything Kahu has witnessed the past three years.
"You know when you get told off when you're younger and your parents always say, 'I'm not angry, but I'm disappointed' and it hurts a bit more? It was that kind of moment," Kahu said of Bennett's post-game demeanour.
"Obviously we didn't defend our best on the weekend and it starts here at training so that's probably why we did a bit today.
"It's finals time so he's probably wanting to get the best out of us. We didn't perform on the weekend when it counted so he's obviously just trying to get the best out of us.
"It was more of an energy kind of thing. We didn't play finals footy how we should have. We went down to Sydney to play a Sydney Roosters team that had been playing really well and we just didn't get up for the occasion."
Although the Panthers didn't score a point against Manly until the 34th minute last weekend and have made a habit of finishing over the top of teams this season, Gillett knows the importance of meeting their high-octane attack and risk another insurmountable lead.
"Energy is a word that does come to mind when you do play Penrith and they do that through their big boys through the middle and exciting backs as well," Gillett said.
"They're a very high energy side and the first 20 when we played the Roosters is something like what they're going to bring as well.
"We weren't up to the mark that first 20, we were pretty slow to start the game. We were lucky enough to come back and get in front for a bit but it comes back down to that start. We gave 14 points away which is pretty hard to do in such a big game.
"We've got to control that first 20 against Penrith.
"It's easier to talk about but going out there and doing it is another thing.
"Energy is a big thing and for us against sides that have shown a lot more energy it was hard to come back from.
"Individually you can try and turn things and show that bit of line speed and try and hit someone or run a bit harder but it comes down to showing that energy together.
"If you're doing that it's a pretty easy thing to change but you can't be doing it individually. You've got to go as one and hopefully the boys find something that shows that bit of energy and everyone jumps on board."