Brisbane coach Wayne Bennett believes young halves Ben Hunt and Anthony Milford are the missing pieces in the club’s NRL premiership puzzle.
Hunt was named man of the match while Milford produced some dazzling plays in Brisbane’s 42-16 thrashing of Wests Tigers on Sunday at Suncorp Stadium.
It’s Brisbane’s seventh NRL win on the trot and leaves them sitting pretty atop the competition ladder.
Bennett says Brisbane have struggled to find a premier halves pairing since Allan Langer’s retirement at the end of the 2002 season, a fault which has proven costly.
“We struggled, it cost us a couple of premierships in the 2000s without a halfback,” Bennett said.
“We moved (Darren) Lockyer to five-eighth but he was a very, very good five-eighth in the end. We really did struggle in those halves.
“That’s what I said when they first came together at the start of the year, the Broncos have got seven or eight years now in front of them knowing they’ve got a very stable halfback and five-eighth combination.
“I’m not saying it will but certainly that was the hallmark of the 90s, Kevin (Walters) and Alf (Langer). These two guys are extremely talented in different ways to Kevin and Alf but they bring a lot to the team.”
Hunt began Sunday’s first-half rout of the bottom-of-the-ladder Tigers, busting through at least five attempted tackles by the visitors on a 40 metre run that would end in the first of Lachlan Maranta’s three tries.
The 25-year-old ended the match with two try assists and 284 metres from nine kicks.
Not to be outdone, Milford provided the moment of the match when he delivered a no-look inside ball to fullback Darius Boyd which would lead to Jack Reed scoring in the corner to establish a 26-0 halftime lead.
Bennett said Milford’s display showed critics of his move to the No.6 jersey had got it wrong.
“The best thing that happened to him is he didn’t listen to you guys,” Bennett said.
“The rest was easy after that. He’s a talented football player, always has been.”
The Tigers tried a resurrection after halftime, scoring three tries inside 15 minutes to move within 10 of the hosts.
A head knock to Tim Simona at a crucial time halted their momentum however and the Broncos kicked away with the last three tries of the game.
The defeat was the Tigers’ fourth in a row and leaves them on the bottom of the ladder.
“Not good enough, clearly, for the first 40 and probably the last 15 or so, but some real positivity around the way we fought hard,” coach Jason Taylor said.
“We’ve got to find a lot more of that in us and it needs to be there from the start of the game.”