Dolphins’ NRL coach Wayne Bennett admits he will have some nerves tomorrow night when his team takes on his former club, the Brisbane Broncos, in the so-called Battle of Brisbane at a place which means so much to him – Suncorp Stadium.
He shared his thoughts ahead of the Dolphins’ Captain’s Run training session at the very venue which will be filled to capacity for the historic clash (7.05pm kick off). See the photo gallery at the end of this story
It will be the biggest crowd he can remember for a club game and the sense of occasion is not lost on the Super Coach.
“(It means) a great deal. Rugby league’s been my life and I’ve done the best I can to make a contribution to it as a player, as a coach,” he explained.
“I … think Paul Morgan, Barry Maranta, Steve Williams and Gary Balkin in 1988 … they’d even be proud of tomorrow night because they were the foundation of the Broncos and they’ve gone on to be a great club and I hope the Dolphins go on to be that great club as well.
“I’m sure they will. It’s pretty special.
“To fill the place up a week out from the game. It’s a great testament to both clubs and the game itself.”
When asked if his history with the Broncos and subsequent sacking spurred him on for tomorrow night, he’s quick to answer.
“It doesn’t but I’m really pleased for the game. It’s a magnificent promotion tomorrow night … to be here in round four and have the whole state and probably the whole country engaged in this game. From that point of view, it’s outstanding. I’m just pleased to be a little part of it,” he said.
Despite that, he said his message to players at training today would remain unchanged.
|“The same one I give them every day … do your best,” Bennett said.|
With Felise Kaufusi sidelined after unsuccessfully challenging a Grade 2 Dangerous Contact charge at the judiciary on Tuesday night, Poasa Faamausili will be asked to step up.
Bennett said he would know after this morning’s session if Isaiya Katoa would be fit to play or if Anthony Milford would get a call-up.
But he would not be drawn on the Kaufusi judiciary decision and did not welcome the distraction from tomorrow night’s game.
“I don’t want to make that a headline today. We’ve got much better things happening here, let’s talk about that,” he told the media this morning.
He said the entire squad had done the training and while the media might hold some up as superstars, at the Dolphins they’re all (just) one of 30 players.
Someone else will be expected to stand up and get the job done, as they have during the absence of Jeremy Marshall-King.
“We can be the team we want to be without Kaufusi and Jeremy Marshall-King,” Bennett said.
The Dolphins are expecting an electric atmosphere tomorrow night which will officially ignite cross-city rivalry with the Broncos and create ‘great theatre’ in the game.
“I’m pleased to be a part of it,” Bennett said.
He’s also pleased for long-time friend and Broncos Head Coach Kevin Walters.
“We have a great relationship and that will remain regardless of the score tomorrow night or what the future holds for either of us,” he said.
Bennett said the Broncos were ‘pretty dangerous right across the field’.
“They will be quite a challenge but that’s tomorrow night and we’ll all be wiser after the event,” he said.
As for playing the Broncos at Suncorp … it will be a special moment and the hallowed turf will always be his home ground.
“I came here as a 16-year-old police cadet at the top of that Petrie Terrace … it’s always been my home ground. I sat there afternoon, afternoon hoping that one day I’d get to play … and all the things I’ve done. I could see Lang Park, as it was then, from the police barracks … never a day went past when I didn’t want to play and be a part of it,” he said.
Bennett said there had been some great moments and terrible ones at the ground.
“It goes with the job and goes with the territory. It’s a pretty special place and always in my heart,” he said.
“The great thing is we’ve all captured the public’s imagination. We want to be here as players, coaches and fans.”
See the photo gallery - click through
Photos by Dominika Lis
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