Matt Lodge has declared the Wayne Bennett era at the Broncos is "over", as the hard-working prop and his teammates embrace a new direction at the club under Anthony Seibold.
The Broncos host the Rabbitohs on Friday night at Suncorp Stadium with the build-up set to focus on the respective coaches.
Bennett left Brisbane last year after a turbulent battle with club hierarchy in his final months at the helm.
New coach Seibold and his team had a slow start to the season with the Broncos languishing in 13th position after a 38-6 loss to the Rabbitohs in round eight.
But after five wins, a draw and just one loss to premiers Melbourne in the past seven rounds the Broncos are now in seventh position on the NRL ladder.
Lodge will always be grateful to Bennett for facilitating his return to the NRL but beating Souths and handing the Rabbitohs their eighth loss in 11 games is the agenda for Friday night, not worrying about last year’s coaching saga at the Broncos.
"Wayne's gone, he's coaching the opposition this week. Good luck to Wayne, but he has got nothing to do with what we are doing now," Lodge said.
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"I loved my time with Wayne but I’ve loved my time with Seibs. It's a new era and Wayne is not leading it. He is looking after Souths and we have our own culture here.
"[Bennett] has coached against the Broncos before but that is the last thing on our minds at the moment. That era is over and we are under Seibs now. It will be good to say hello after the game but that is about it.
"They bashed us and towelled us up down there last time. We still have a lot of things to work on in our footy. As long as we come with a competitive mindset we will be a lot better than we were earlier in the year. They are up with the benchmark in the comp and we just have to turn up and play our style of footy."
It took a while for Lodge and the Broncos to adapt to Seibold’s ways. The 23-year-old said he now felt comfortable in his own role.
"When I am out there I do a bit more talk and directing what the coach wants us to do and getting us to the right points of the field, and making sure everyone is talking and working,” Lodge said.
"I will do the early carries and let the big mobile fast guys like Payne [Haas] and [David] Fifita play off the back of that. That's my job here."
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The Broncos’ roster has undergone an overhaul since the start of the season with James Roberts, Jaydn Su’A and Kodi Nikorima all exiting.
With Jack Bird also suffering a season-ending knee injury the team has had to adjust to new players in new positions. Captain Darius Boyd, now in the five-eighth role, said finding form was always going to take time.
"We’ve had a new coach, new players and young players. Some have just made their debuts and some are 10 games into their careers," Boyd said.
"We have just been getting used to the game plan and getting used to playing with each other. We had people move on and a few injuries. It was just about getting confidence, building and learning on the run.
"There is some freakish talent there but sometimes it takes 50 to 80 games to feel comfortable and part of a group in the NRL. I feel like we are finding our feet, especially over the last eight weeks. We have changed positions and moved people around and it is seems to be working."
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Boyd played his entire career under Bennett until this year and said that the coaching style of Seibold was more hands-on.
"There is more attention to detail I would say. With Wayne he has his assistants who probably handled more of that kind of stuff whereas Seibs does it himself basically," Boyd said.
"There is more around game specific things that he likes to see but there is more than one way to do things. Wayne’s way obviously works, with the success he has had, but now we are really starting to put things in place that are working well and that is a credit to Seibs and his coaching staff."
Boyd said Seibold’s style was suited to the makeup of the squad.
"I think it is great for the young ones because they need a lot of direction … and Seibs is great at doing little things with them and making sure they all understand their role and how they can improve," he said.
Boyd said he would probably send his former mentor a text this week. Last time the Broncos played Souths it was Boyd’s 300th game and there was plenty written and said about the enduring partnership the pair enjoyed for 13 years.
"I played against him in the first club game at the start of the year and spoke to him through that week," Boyd said.
"We have a great relationship but footy is footy. You want to get the win. He’ll want to get the win, and afterwards you speak about it.
"It is like when you play against your mates, except he’s a coach. We are mates. We have done a lot of things together on and off the field and whatever happens this week won’t change that.
"It is just another game for us but it is good for the game with the hype built around it. It puts bums on seats and has people watching it at home."