Bennett declares title race wide open
Spring was in the Brisbane air and there was a spring in the step of Wayne Bennett as he declared winning the premiership from outside the top eight was "all doable".
Bennett had donned a green bib and played a game of "off-side touch" with his players in the 20-degree sunshine before conducting his weekly press conference ahead of Saturday night's clash with the Sydney Roosters at Allianz Stadium.
The seventh-placed Broncos may sneak a home final if they can improve one or two positions on the ladder over the final two rounds. Either way, Bennett said the competition was so tight that any team could win it from any position, no matter how many home finals they have or where they finish on the ladder.
"I think a lot of teams out there think they can win it and a lot of teams aren't sure if they can. The bottom line is no-one has got a stamp on it right now," Bennett said.
"The Cowboys won the 2015 grand final after they played four games in the play-offs, and they only played one of them at home.
"It is all doable. If you are injury free, you've got your key players playing for you and you're playing good footy…it is anybody's competition.
"If we are playing well that is our best chance. If we are playing poorly, it wouldn’t matter how many home finals we've got."
The second-placed Roosters await the Broncos in Sydney and will be a strong test of their mettle after Brisbane beat Souths 38-18 last weekend.
"It is a test, there is no doubt about that … with the play-offs a couple of weeks away now," Bennett said.
"It is timely but it is not the ultimate test. The ultimate test is when you get into the last game of the season and there is no more."
The Broncos have not appeared stressed or tense ahead of the "test" that awaits.
Brisbane's training always has an atmosphere about it. Sometimes, such as when Bennett gave several players a roasting early in the season and removed TV cameras from the sideline, you can cut it with a knife.
It would be stretch to say there has been a carnival atmosphere this week but there has been a lightness around Brisbane HQ that suggests the players are in the right frame of mind.
On Monday the Broncos played some Aussie Rules as part of their training and then on Wednesday Darius Boyd, James Roberts and several other players hung around to play some touch footy with fans.
Then on Friday the Broncos played off-side touch alongside their coach after practising some gridiron, with Alex Glenn and Sam Thaiday both starring as quarterbacks to provide Corey Oates and Darius Boyd with "touch-downs".
"They have come off a good win and that helps everybody's morale. Winning is always the best remedy for anything that you’ve got wrong in your life," Bennett said of the upbeat mood.
A win over the Roosters will be more likely if the serious business of getting centre Roberts some more quality ball comes to fruition.
"When he has got the ball in his hands he does his job. It is our challenge to get it to him," Bennett said.
"He is pretty lethal. James is competitive and is pretty good mates with Latrell [Mitchell]. I think they will be both wanting to play well against each other. That will be another part of the game that will make it really good to watch."