Inspired by a hungrier Wayne Bennett, Brisbane have exorcised their NRL grand final demons and embraced 2016 title favouritism.
Forward Josh McGuire said Bennett appeared more motivated than ever to guide the Broncos to a seventh NRL title ahead of Thursday night’s season opener at Parramatta.
Bennett was at his poker-faced best at Brisbane training on Monday.
But McGuire revealed the 2015 golden point grand final loss to North Queensland had put a fire in the master coach’s belly.
“To make it all the way (to the final) and not take that final step was heartbreaking,” McGuire said.
“He (Bennett) always has that hunger to win. It probably just made him a little more hungrier (this year).”
And it appears to have rubbed off.
Broncos backrower Alex Glenn said they had no problem with being installed as bookies’ favourites for the 2016 flag.
Brisbane had embraced the underdog tag in 2015 under returning coach Bennett.
But Glenn admitted they could no longer fly under the radar – and nor did they wish to.
“Yeah we will (relish being favourites). Our club has always strived to be the greatest,” Glenn said.
“We have always had high standards but we know it is not going to come easy.
“Last year a lot of people doubted us and we wanted to come out and work hard for each other.
“We have to do that again this year.”
Glenn said Brisbane won’t be carrying any baggage into the new season after Bennett addressed their grand final loss soon after they returned for pre-season training.
“We had a tough meeting when we came back in the pre-season,” he said.
“We did a video review of that game. That was pretty hard.
“But in order to move forward you have to go through those hard times and learn from your mistakes.
“It’s a new year and new beginning.”
Brisbane top premiership betting after they found an ideal replacement for retired great Justin Hodges – strike centre James Roberts.
But Queensland prop McGuire – who missed last year’s finals campaign due to an Achilles injury – believed Bennett would again be the key to a title run.
“The boys have all the confidence in the world and he (Bennett) has confidence in us – he is a great leader and role model,” a fit again McGuire said.
McGuire hoped speculation that Bennett aimed to sign on for another two years proved true.
“All of the boys would be excited to have Wayne stay,” he said of Bennett whose current contract expires in 2017.
“But Wayne makes his own rules. Whatever Wayne decides will happen, he’s a good man and coach.
“You just have to look at what he has done for the playing group over the past year.”