NRL finals all too familiar for Bennett - Sports News - Fanatics - the world's biggest events

NRL finals all too familiar for Bennett

By Wayne Heming 09/09/2008 08:09:02 PM Comments (0)

The Brisbane Broncos, and in particular their coach Wayne Bennett, slipped into a familiar gear called finals football.

This will be Bennett's 17th consecutive finals campaign and his 18th in 21 seasons with Brisbane.

It will also be his last as he packs his bags and heads to St George Illawarra next season.

His finals record is 23 wins and 21 losses from 44 games and six premierships from six grand final appearances, which according to Sydney-based stats guru David Middleton "blows any other coach out of the water" for longevity.

Bennett's vast finals experience swept over his players in a calming way at Red Hill on Tuesday before Friday night's clash with the Sydney Roosters officially launches the NRL's 2008 finals series.

A few players in their first year at the club under Bennett were amazed by his relaxed demeanour on Tuesday.

Former Penrith prop Joel Clinton turned up for training expecting Bennett to crank things up but was very surprised by the quality of the 90-minute work out.

"I've been under a couple of other coaches and he's got a different outlook on finals football," said Clinton who has hit his hard-running best at the right time of the season.

"They usually ramp it right up coming into the finals and turn the heat up at training.

"But Wayne makes it shorter and sharper and gets you so relaxed that he brings you back down to earth.

"It's so enjoyable. You want to turn up to training every day and there's a real good vibe around the place."

Another 2008 recruit Ashton Sims, who has finals experience with the Dragons, expressed a similar view about Bennett's approach to finals football.

"Obviously this is the first time I've had him (Bennett) around semi-finals time and he's pretty cool about the whole thing," said Sims.

"He probably should be, he's been to them 20-odd times before so he knows what works and what doesn't.

"His sessions are short and intense, which seems to work well."

The Roosters have lost damaging ball-running forward Willie Mason (knee) but were spared losing prop Mark O'Meley to suspension with an early guilty plea.

Their record against Brisbane isn't too flash in the past five years.

Ailing forward Sam Thaiday (virus) said even without Mason's head-on charges the Roosters pack was full of quality.

"They wouldn't be in the position they are if they didn't have a good forward pack or the depth to cover for Mason," said Thaiday, battling a virus but confident of playing.

"Most teams are built behind a great forward pack and then you've got your flashy backs outside of them."

Brisbane's record over the Roosters at the Sydney Football Stadium is very impressive having not lost there in five meetings since 2003.

Overall their head-to-head record is 11-5 against the Bondi boys.

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