They’re one of the worst attacking teams in the NRL and their veteran playmaker is being publicly battered from pillar to post.
But Wayne Bennett is wary of a reaction from under-fire St George Illawarra and Benji Marshall when they take on competition leaders Brisbane on Thursday night at Suncorp Stadium in what looks, on paper at least, to be a bloodbath-in-waiting.
The Dragons conceded six tries in a 36-0 belting at the hands of premiers North Queensland last weekend – as many as they’ve scored for the season.
That result sparked a week of internal soul-searching and external questions over whether 31-year-old Marshall, off-contract and holding out for a bigger offer from the joint-venture club, is the right man to spark their attack.
As far as coach Paul McGregor is concerned, the Dragons need to focus more on simply keeping the ball first, before worrying about who does what with it.
“Everyone’s telling us we need to score points, instead of working a team over to get it right to score points,” McGregor said.
“When we’ve done that against Souths, Penrith, we’ve come away with a win.
“The two sides that put some scores on us, we completed at 42 per cent. You just can’t win games (like that).”
Bennett believes the Dragons – who haven’t won at Suncorp since 2009 and have beaten the Broncos only twice in their last 13 meetings – have an upset in them, pointing to their response to their heavy round two loss to Cronulla as proof.
After that 30-2 defeat, they came out and beat South Sydney in a low-scoring struggle, then edged Penrith the following week.
“We’ve just got to be conscious of that and realise they’re a quality footy team that’s probably not playing with a lot of luck,” Bennett said.
As for Marshall, Bennett said: “They all go through a bit of a rough patch.”
“He’s a wonderful player when he’s on. He might be in that place now, I’m not sure.
“But there’s always a place for Benji Marshall.”
The Broncos have declared James Roberts (hip) and Jarrod Wallace (hamstring) as certain starters despite both having an injury-interrupted week.
Wallace only trained briefly on Wednesday but did all he needed to, Bennett said, while Roberts, who has scored in his last two games, will play even if he requires a pain-killing injection.
STATS THAT MATTER
* St George Illawarra are ranked last in average points scored per game (8), tries scored (1.2) and line breaks (1.8).
* The Broncos have a dominant recent record over the Dragons, winning 11 of 13 against them since late in 2009, including eight straight wins at Suncorp Stadium.
* The Broncos have led at half-time in each of their past eight matches dating back to the first week of the 2015 Finals, winning six of those matches.