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'Broncos have belief to beat Dragons'

By Wayne Heming 16/09/2009 06:38:44 PM Comments (0)

Wayne Bennett may have had the upper hand in Brisbane since their great partnership split last year but Broncos captain Darren Lockyer has no fears about facing his former coach's St George Illawarra side in Saturday night's NRL semi-final.

If Lockyer was edgy about the Bennett factor or Brisbane's woeful 0-6 finals record at their Suncorp Stadium home since 1995, he wasn't showing it on Thursday as he fielded an array of questions about both issues.

"Wayne came here last year for the World Cup final (with New Zealand) and won that and he came here (round four) at the start of the year and won that," said Lockyer.

"I'd say he's got the wood on us here (Brisbane) at the moment."

But Brisbane knocked the Bennett monkey off their back last month with a clinical 12-2 upset win over the Dragons in Wollongong, a tough defensive performance Lockyer said had given his players a lot of self-belief.

"We got a lot out of that win and we don't have to change too much," he said.

The Broncos skipper was quick to shut down any talk of another clash with his long-time mentor's team getting into his head, saying: "Saturday night is not about the coaches, it's about the players."

No modern day coach-captain partnership has enjoyed as much club and representative success as Bennett and Lockyer before Bennett's departure to St George Illawarra a year before his contract expired.

They shared in four premierships and over 20 Origins and Tests in their 13-year football relationship.

That partnership ended in tears and despair at Suncorp Stadium last September, Melbourne scoring a try in the final minute to end their season in the semi-finals.

Both are professional enough to put their continuing friendship aside, although the respect for each other will always be there.

Lockyer keeps in touch with Bennett but the lines of communication between the pair have been down during Brisbane's late-season climb off the NRL canvas.

"This week is not the ideal time to have a chat, maybe after the game but not prior," he said.

Lockyer credited Brisbane's forwards for turning the team's slumping season around and, while St George Illawarra have taken a very different path into the finals as minor premiers, he said the stakes were the same for both sides on Saturday.

"Whoever loses, loses the opportunity to win a premiership," he said.

"We've been able to resurrect our season and we've given ourselves an opportunity.

"A poor performance on Saturday would be extremely disappointing for everyone and they're in the same boat.

"Their last month of footy hasn't been great but we've seen what they're capable of doing.

"We have to make sure our defence and our attitude are spot on and that we learned from last year and play every one of the 80 minutes.

"This is not just another home game, it is a semi-final and we need to approach it a bit differently."

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