Broncos learnt from big opening-round defeat
IF a week is a long time in rugby league, then the past 23 weeks must have been an eternity for Brisbane.
When the Broncos, with favourite son Wayne Bennett back in charge, and a new halves pairing, took the field against defending premiers and world club champion South Sydney at Suncorp Stadium on March 5, many in the crowd of 36,057 didn't really know what to expect.
Before their return clash in Sydney on Thursday night, Brisbane hooker Andrew McCullough admitted he and his teammates had felt the same as the crowd before Souths touched them up 36-6 to open the season.
"We really didn't know what (team) we had in round one," confessed McCullough.
"We had some new faces in the team, so we were working on new combinations and a new defensive structure.
"We took a lot out of that first game, and what the benchmark was.
"That's all changed now and the position we have on the ladder (equal first) shows we are getting it right."
McCullough also said the team had taken a lot of positives out of its gallant 12-10 loss to the Roosters last weekend in a game he said had finals intensity for 80 minutes.
Souths will go into the clash without superstar fullback and skipper Greg Inglis, who underwent minor knee surgery on the weekend, after limping off against the Bulldogs on Friday night.
On the flip side, they will welcome back key positional players, hooker Issac Luke and five-eighth Luke Keary, who both missed the Dogs' match through suspension.
If there was any good news involving Inglis, it was that he will most likely only miss a few weeks, unlike Roosters prop Jared Waerea-Hargreaves, whose season is over after he ruptured his ACL against the Broncos.
The injury update was not great for North Queensland either.
While representative prop James Tamou, who underwent fusion surgery on his neck last year, was cleared of any serious injury in the same area after being taken to hospital during the Cowboys' amazing 50-16 win over the Warriors last weekend, he still has to be cleared to play against the Storm in Melbourne on Saturday night.
Tamou and teammate Michael Morgan underwent scans when the team arrived back in Townsville from New Zealand yesterday, with genuine concerns Morgan's season might be over after he injured his ankle against the flagging Warriors.