Veteran forward Matt Gillett has hailed the increased intensity of training sessions under new coach Anthony Seibold as the Brisbane Broncos target big improvements in 2019.
Gillett said Seibold's methods had been an education for the entire squad and was able to pinpoint the major change between training under the new coach and under former mentor Wayne Bennett.
"The intensity in our training sessions," Gillett said.
"Coming in and out of drills you know it is a lot more intense and faster. We are under fatigue the whole time when we are training and that's what games are like. We are trying to simulate game pace.
"Seibs has done a great job with the entire playing group. The three weeks leading up to Christmas was a learning curve with the way he wants to run things but we are all excited about what is to come."
Hooker Andrew McCullough insists adjusting to the methods of Seibold will be no excuse for the side not to start the season with the right defensive mindset.
The Broncos leaked 500 points in the regular season in 2018, the worst of all top eight sides, and started last year with four losses from the opening seven games. The losses to the Dragons, Titans and Storm all showcased Brisbane's defensive frailties.
The Brisbane hooker was quick to hit on the head suggestions the Broncos would take time to adapt to Seibold's coaching.
"I'd like not to think so," McCullough said.
"Overall we are working pretty hard now. We have got to work on our effort areas this year. We leaked a lot of tries last year, and you can't compete against the top teams by leaking too many points.
"Defensively we need to be right straight away.
"Is the ball work going to be right straight away? I'm not too sure, but the effort areas and key moments in games are where it will be crucial at the start of the year."
The Broncos were never in the top four at any stage in 2018 after slipping to 10th after round seven. The closest they got was after the final round of the competition when they moved into sixth position.
While only two points away from the top four it was Brisbane’s for and against, and in particular their "against", that counted against them from the start of the year.
McCullough said the squad would be able to adapt to Seibold's ways by adopting the right approach.
"You've got to have the mindset of wanting to change and wanting to compete and we are doing that at the moment. We are still eight to 10 weeks off [playing] ... but we need to get things right now," he said.
The return of Gillett from injury is set to strengthen the Broncos edge defence, which had its issues in 2018.
The Dragons targeted that area with great success in week one of the finals but McCullough said the Test forward's return, combined with the experience gained by younger members of the squad last season, augured well for the year ahead.
"[Gillett] has played a mountain of games for the Broncos, Queensland and Australia, so if you pull any guy out of any team with that reputation it is going to hurt, but on the flip side it was a good opportunity for those young guys to experience [NRL] a bit quicker than they would have, the Dave Fifitas and the Jaydn Sua's," McCullough said.