He saw it coming.
But Wayne Bennett claims a “distracted” Brisbane’s inevitable State of Origin period slump will soon be over.
“All the problems we have will be solved at the end of the rep season,” said the veteran coach.
“And we are just about through the rep season.”
Bennett expects a more competitive Broncos showing against second-placed Melbourne at Suncorp Stadium on Friday night after welcoming back Andrew McCullough and Alex Glenn from injury.
However, Bennett did not expect former ladder leaders Brisbane to be back to their best until after July 13’s Origin III clash in Sydney.
Six Broncos are again expected to run out for a Queensland side aiming for a fifth series whitewash against NSW in Origin III.
Bennett said his side had not been the same since the Origin period’s demands kicked in before round nine’s Cronulla clash.
They have lost five of their last seven games in that period to slip to fifth spot on the NRL ladder.
“We are distracted, simple as that,” Bennett said.
“I realised it would happen to us.
“They (Brisbane’s rep players) have priorities sometimes in the wrong place.
“Cronulla was the first game and we haven’t been much better since then.”
McCullough’s return from a broken thumb was confirmed when he trained strongly on Thursday after missing Tuesday’s session.
Regular forward Glenn (shoulder) will also return but has been moved to left centre, handing Jaydn Su’A a backrow start and relegating utility Kodi Nikorima to the bench at the expense of Travis Waddell.
Utility back Jordan Kahu (pectoral) was close to returning but was given another week.
He remains on the sidelines with fellow backs Jack Reed, Greg Eden and Tom Opacic.
Halves Ben Hunt and Anthony Milford have come under scrutiny for failing to fire a depleted backline.
But instead Bennett challenged his forward pack to lift.
“If the forwards are getting overrun in the middle, your halves are totally ineffective,” he said.
“I have coached some great halves, none were greater than Allan Langer, and he had a lot of bad days when his forwards weren’t doing the job for him.
“My halves are no different.”
KEY STATS – BRONCOS V STORM
* Melbourne have won nine of their last 10 games against Brisbane including five straight at Suncorp Stadium
* Brisbane have won seven of their eight home games this season
* Melbourne concede the fewest points (11.7 points per game), fewest linebreaks (2.1 per game) and the fewest tackles (18.4pg) in the league