South Sydney's season is looming as a classic Wayne Bennett build-up to a finals series, and ultimately another grand final.
The Rabbitohs picked up vital competition points early before having a lull during the State of Origin series. They are now building momentum so they can hit September in top gear.
Wayne did it each year at the Broncos where we regularly had eight players in the Queensland side, and on occasion up to 11. He understands better than any other coach in the game how to negotiate that Origin period and come out the other side in decent shape.
Even though Souths lost most of their games this year during Origin when his stars were out, what would have impressed Wayne the most was the effort they put in. There were a few narrow losses and a lot of lessons learned.
When the representative season kicks in he cares a lot about the players who aren't in the Origin teams.
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I remember the early days of the Broncos that when the Queensland players would go into Origin it was a hollow period without them. Wayne was very good at keeping us all upbeat. If we put in and still lost, he was still quite happy with that.
I had a chat to Wayne last week and what stood out was how upbeat he was. He is enjoying his new gig at the Rabbitohs but I reckon he's on a high because he has come through Origin and is winning games again.
He will be thinking about getting the team on a good run into the finals because he has always said that if you stumble into September don't even think about winning the grand final.
If you are on a roll then you are every chance.
Bennett has handled some very testing moments this year with aplomb.
When Greg Inglis retired it was a massive loss for the Rabbitohs. Greg is one of the greats and an inspirational leader for Souths.
Not many clubs lose their captain at the start of a season but Wayne went and recruited James Roberts from Brisbane and that move is starting to work a treat.
The Jet has settled in now and is pushing through the line. He seems to have a bit more energy at Souths than he had in Brisbane just before he left. I'm not sure why that was but I like what I am seeing.
Against the Cowboys recently he set up the last try by pushing through defenders with his sheer strength and speed.
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Bennett recruited Ethan Lowe from the Cowboys when many thought he was past his best, but he backed him and got Ethan into a Maroons jersey. Wayne has a knack of doing that with players. Lowe has been a great buy.
Jaydn Su'A is another player that Bennett secured from the Broncos. Wayne gave Su'A his debut when he was 18 and played him for 80 minutes. I regard Su'A as a Ben Te'o style of player.
Cody Walker earned a NSW jersey on the back of outstanding club form and was then dropped from Origin. He had a bit of a lull but he has got back to strong form.
In my first two games of Origin, I was replacing Dale Shearer both times. I played the first game and then got dropped but I happily slotted back into the Broncos team because that is where your bread and butter is.
Against the Dragons last week Cody was busy again after a few quiet games. When you see him busy both sides of the field you know his head is right.
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Adam Reynolds is the rudder of the team. You know he has that calmness to his game. He has won games at the death just by keeping his cool. Wayne never presses the panic button in times of crisis either so they are a great pairing to have for Souths.
In Cameron Murray, they have one of the best forwards in the game. He is not a monster but he is smart, tough and a genuine match-winner.
Sam Burgess is set to get back in action now after recovering from shoulder surgery. He has to get out there and rip in. If the Rabbitohs are to win the grand final he will need to have a blinder like he did in 2014.
The Rabbitohs have won tight recent games against Manly, North Queensland and St George Illawarra where they weren't at their very best. They found a way to win.
At the Broncos in the 1990s, we won matches playing below our own standards. When you know what it takes to win it doesn't matter if it comes in the last few seconds, so long as it does.
I have been a little bit underwhelmed by the Roosters of late and I envisage Souths playing the Storm in the grand final. That would be a cracker with those two great clubs going at it.
Behind the scenes, the Bellamy v Bennett story would bubble along all week. It would be a great promotion for the NRL.
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