BRISBANE, June 30 AAP – Wayne Bennett says he saw Brisbane’s State of Origin slump coming.
But he can finally see light at the end of the tunnel for a “distracted” Broncos ahead of Friday night’s NRL clash with Melbourne at Suncorp Stadium.
Fifth-placed Brisbane received some welcome news when hooker Andrew McCullough’s return from a broken thumb was confirmed on Thursday.
Regular forward Alex Glenn (shoulder) will make his return at 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.
Bennett was not surprised Brisbane had struggled during the representative period.
He said his side had not been the same since the demands of the Origin period kicked in after the round-nine clash against Cronulla.
They have lost five of their past seven games since.
“Cronulla was the first game and we haven’t been much better since then,” Bennett said.
“We are distracted, simple as that.
“I realised it would happen to us.
“All the problems we have will be solved at the end of the rep season.
“And we are just about through the rep season.”
Bennett also challenged his forward pack to lift and give struggling halves Anthony Milford and Ben Hunt a boost.
“If the forwards are getting over-run 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.”
Second-placed Melbourne have won 10 of their past 11 games at Suncorp Stadium.