Wayne Bennett has hailed the "special relationship" he has with boom prop Tevita Pangai Jnr after the rising star played a crucial role in the Brisbane Broncos' stunning 24-20 win over the North Queensland Cowboys.
It was a Pangai Jnr try in the 19th minute where he wrestled his way over the line with brute force that turned the tide for Brisbane after the Cowboys led 8-0 and dominated the early exchanges.
Pangai Jnr did not take a backward step against the giant Cowboys' pack. It was Bennett who gave the talented front-rower his NRL debut when he left the Canberra Raiders in 2016.
"He came here because of me and that's why he's here at this club, for no other reason," Bennett said.
"I am just pleased he is playing the football he is. We've got a pretty special relationship.
"I always knew what he could do and we just had to give him the time to be able to do that."
Bennett said Pangai Jnr gave him a call because he wanted to be coached by him and he had no hesitation in signing him.
Captain Darius Boyd said it was a typical encounter with the Cowboys.
"Those games are tough and close and it was a good performance whether we had won, lost and drawn," Boyd said.
"We put in the effort and became the Broncos again because it wasn't us last week [against St George Illawarra].
"I was a bit tentative last week for a few reasons and I wanted to go out there and do my best basically."
Match: Broncos v Cowboys
Round 2 -
Venue: Suncorp Stadium
- Nine Network
- LIVE PASS
With regard to the goal post that freakishly stopped Scott Bolton scoring what would have been the match-winning try with 90 seconds remaining, Bennett said "we needed a bit of luck".
"I couldn't see it well enough at the time but we bombed about three tries out there ourselves," he said.
"We were the best team out there tonight. They went up 8-0 with a lucky try when nothing was running for us but we hung in good and we were disciplined and had 85 percent ball control by the time we got to half-time."
Bennett said he "didn't have to say anything" to the critics that wrote the Broncos off after the round one loss to the St George Illawarra Dragons.
As the post-match press conference ended Bennett had the final say to the critics after a week where the club copped plenty of flak.
"There is no other club in any sport in this country that could have pulled together like we did in the last couple of weeks with all the adversity we've been through," Bennett said.
"That is what I am most proud of.You'll never divide us guys, so stay out of it. Our strength is our club."