The addition of Jack Bird and another year of finals experience means Brisbane are a step closer to another elusive NRL premiership, according to coach Wayne Bennett.
The Broncos fell short in their quest to break an 11-year drought when they were over-run by Melbourne, who put on 22 unanswered second half points for a 30-0 victory in Friday’s preliminary final at AAMI Park.
Brisbane’s kicking game let them down while they failed to build any pressure on the Storm in the second half with some poor attacking choices.
But Bennett said Cronulla utility Bird, who signed a four-year deal in May worth about $4 million, would be a strong addition.
“The bridge is not long, it’s pretty short,” Bennett said of their journey to a title.
“We’ve got Jack Bird coming next year, we’ve got quality players there – we’re on this journey to get ourselves in a situation where we can’t get exposed like we did (against the Storm).
“Next year we’ll be older and smarter, we need to play in these games, these guys need to get the experience.”
Bennett lamented the injury toll at his club and said the side rarely played the same spine throughout the season, losing hooker Andrew McCullough for the year with a knee injury while others were in and out of the line-up.
“I’ve been in a lot of finals series and a lot of seasons and I’m going to tell you the best thing is constant players – the same team every week, you crave for that,” Bennett said
“To put the same 17 on every week and that gives you confidence and belief and we haven’t managed that.
“It’s the best thing you can have going into the finals.”
Skipper Darius Boyd missed their last two games after suffering a hamstring injury in round 26. The gamble of playing him underdone on Friday backfired and he was forced off early in the second half.
Bennett likened it to his club’s 2002 finals campaign, when Allan Langer broke his thumb late in the season and returned but couldn’t stop the Broncos crashing out in the preliminary finals.
“When Alf came back in for the play-offs like Darius did he wasn’t the same player he was before,” Bennett said.
“We needed what Darius brings and what Alf brought in that era so it does have an impact.”