The hype over NRL premiership favourites Brisbane is showing no sign of slowing down – much to coach Wayne Bennett’s annoyance.
The media-shy Bennett was at his prickly best on Wednesday, even taking aim at his own players’ claim that the 2015 grand final loss had made them hungrier for premiership success.
Brisbane have been installed as bookies’ favourites for the title ahead of Thursday night’s season opener at Parramatta.
But it seems the wily Bennett still needs some convincing.
“Are we favourites? That is not going to help us one iota,” he said.
Bennett’s mood didn’t improve when their heartbreaking grand final loss to North Queensland inevitably came up.
“Do I look affected by it? The present is more important than the past,” he said.
“We are all good. We have moved on.”
Bennett even seemed cranky that his players had claimed this week they had embraced the favourites’ tag and that the 2015 defeat had made them hungrier for title No.7.
“It’s a lot easier to talk about something – it’s a lot harder to do it,” Bennett said when asked if his side were hungrier.
“In a month’s time, we will be a little bit wiser, whether we mean what we say or whether it is something we have been making up.”
Simply mentioning the 2015 grand final seemed to raise Bennett’s hackles.
Asked if he had subjected his team to a replay, Bennett said: “We didn’t sit down and watch it.
“We just watched parts where we need to get better.
“At the end of the day, we beat ourselves.”
Bennett did lighten up when the subject switched to his two debutants – strike centre James Roberts and English winger Greg Eden.
Roberts will make his NRL debut for the Broncos as an ideal replacement for retired great Justin Hodges.
“It’s about being patient with him now until he gets used to playing with these blokes,” Bennett said.
And Eden’s journey almost brought a smile to Bennett’s face – almost.
Eden will finally play a NRL game a year after arriving in Australia as “the British Billy Slater”, only to spend the entire 2015 season in the second-tier Queensland Cup.
“Last year, he was a thousand miles from being an NRL player,” Bennett said.
“You could see the talent he had but his attitude was so far off the pace, it didn’t matter.
“He has managed to change a lot of things.
“It is just a matter of doing that every week now.”