Broncos pay tribute to coach before finals - Sports News - Fanatics - the world's biggest events

Broncos pay tribute to coach before finals

By Laine Clark 07/09/2011 04:55:18 PM Comments (0)

An unprompted ode to Anthony Griffin on Wednesday revealed just how much the Broncos were willing to play for their rookie coach in the NRL finals - and how much they had fallen out with his predecessor.

Retiring captain Darren Lockyer may be dominating headlines but Broncos star Justin Hodges took time to dip his hat to Griffin in the lead-up to Saturday night's finals clash with New Zealand Warriors.

Asked if Griffin's under 20s coaching experience would help prepare the young Broncos ahead of this weekend, Hodges launched an unexpected tribute.

It provided an insight into the respect Griffin had earned at Red Hill.

But it was the name that he did not mention that raised eyebrows - the man Griffin sensationally replaced weeks ahead of the 2011 season, Ivan Henjak.

Hodges pledged the players' love for Griffin, comparing it with the affection felt for legendary Broncos coach Wayne Bennett - but did not name-check Henjak.

Henjak was sacked in February with two years still left on his contract after supposedly losing the support of several senior players.

"Hook (Griffin) is just a great coach. He loves his players and we love him," said Hodges on his return from a hamstring complaint.

"Obviously if you have that from your players you don't want to let him down - same thing when we had Wayne here (with) the amount of love he showed for his players.

"We go out there each week to put our bodies on the line for him.

"You want to play for him. That's the way it is at the Broncos. We love playing for Hook."

Statistics back Hodges' claim.

Despite his last minute appointment, Griffin has guided the Broncos to their 20th finals campaign in 24 seasons and their first top four regular season finish since 2006 - the last year they won the title.

And after notching their 18th win by downing Manly last weekend, Brisbane moved to 40 competition points - the most ever by a Broncos team in a season.

Not bad for a side that last year missed the finals for the first time in 21 years with just 10 wins.

Hodges also congratulated Griffin for how he had groomed their band of Broncos youngsters before issuing an ominous warning.

"Most don't know how good they can be," he said.

"I think you are going to see a lot more from them next year.

"Young guys I think they get a bit nervous having Lockyer and those sort of guys around.

"They get a bit nervous to touch the ball.

"I am pretty sure over the next few years you will see some of those guys become great players."

Not that any of the Broncos youngsters were showing signs of nerves ahead of the finals.

"It is amazing how much confidence they show," Hodges said.

"It makes the job for us older blokes easier - we are not looking over our shoulder worried that they are not ready for the game."

The Broncos travelled to the Gold Coast on Wednesday for a two-night camp ahead of their Suncorp Stadium finals clash.

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