Broncos’ coach Anthony Seibold is desperate for a win over his old team South Sydney. Picture: Bradley Kanaris/Getty Images)
Broncos’ coach Anthony Seibold is desperate for a win over his old team South Sydney. Picture: Bradley Kanaris/Getty Images)

You’re kidding if you think this is just another game

A WISE old rugby league sage (or maybe one of those serial writers of online comments to media organisations that say, 'this isn't a story') might tell you that there is nothing special about Thursday night's Broncos-Rabbitohs clash.

In some ways they would be right.

It is, after all, only Round 8 of a possible 27-game season and the Broncos have taken a long-term view with their new coach, signing him to a five-year contract.

 

So really, what does it matter who wins? In the grand scheme of things it's just another game.

Except for one thing: this is not just another game.

Unless, of course, you're referring to the Game of Thrones.

The major players might deny that there is anything more than two competition points up for grabs at ANZ Stadium, but don't believe them. They're lying.

Revenge, retribution, vindication, pointscoring, bragging rights and that old favourite, redemption … you name it, it will all be on the line.

You only had to read The Courier Mail's Peter Badel's excellent series this week on the background to the changing of the guard at the Broncos to appreciate the depth of emotion, pain and heartache that emanated from the biggest upheaval in the club's history.

Wayne Bennet intends to have the last laugh when his Rabbitohs come up against his old team. Picture: Phil Hillyard
Wayne Bennet intends to have the last laugh when his Rabbitohs come up against his old team. Picture: Phil Hillyard

You can rest assured that the people involved read it.

That's another thing they lie about. When a coach tells you he doesn't read what's in the papers take it with a massive dose of salt.

They dissect every word - and there would have been plenty of words in Badel's series that would have made Wayne Bennett sit up and take notice.

Mainly the ones about his age. "He was forgetting names .This was not the Bennett of the Wonder Years. To them he seemed disorganised, distracted and inconsistent."

The "them" mentioned throughout the series were the Broncos hierarchy: chairman Karl Morris, CEO Paul White and board member Darren Lockyer.

Karl Morris, Broncos chairman Karl Morris and CEO Paul White announce Wayne Bennett’s dismissal. A win over Souths would take the pressure off them. Picture: AAP/Josh Woning)
Karl Morris, Broncos chairman Karl Morris and CEO Paul White announce Wayne Bennett’s dismissal. A win over Souths would take the pressure off them. Picture: AAP/Josh Woning)

The first one Bennett never had any time for, the other two were once close friends and confidantes. All three he felt had stabbed him in the back.

You think Wayne Bennett won't be looking to throw those words back in the face of "them" on Thursday night? Won't want to let them, and everyone else, know that he is still a long way from the scrapheap?

Most of all, show the rugby league community that they were wrong to let him go.

Then there's Anthony Seibold, who has spent the past two months preaching calm, patience and faith - all the while knowing that they were three commodities in increasingly short supply.

His Broncos have won just two games this season and both were against weakened teams that lost key players early in the match or, in the case of the Sharks, during the warm-up.

This game is different. It is against a powerhouse outfit that has camped imperiously at the top of the table without ever hitting full stride.

Cody Walker and the Rabbitohs have lost just one game - but still have plenty of improvement in them. Picture: Nathan Hopkins/NRL Photos
Cody Walker and the Rabbitohs have lost just one game - but still have plenty of improvement in them. Picture: Nathan Hopkins/NRL Photos

Seibold needs Brisbane to win for so many reasons that it's hard to fit them all into one column.

He wants to show that the Broncos were right in offering him the job - and he was right in accepting. He wants to prove that his Coach of the Year award was warranted; that he really can coach.

That he's not the "myth" that many are now labelling him.

Most of all, he wants to start sleeping at night.

The players on both sides have got plenty of skin in the game as well.

The Broncos are low on confidence - why wouldn't they be after the start they've had? They want to start sashaying around town like Roman centurions again, the way Broncos players are supposed to, feted at nightclubs, recognised in supermarkets. Asked, "can I get a selfie?" not "what's wrong with you blokes?"

Battered Broncos need a boost of confidence from their clash with South Sydney. Picture: AAP/Dean Lewins
Battered Broncos need a boost of confidence from their clash with South Sydney. Picture: AAP/Dean Lewins

They want to get the monkey off their backs.

The Rabbitohs want to keeping winning of course, but for some there is more to it.

Seibold says he is still friends with some of the Souths players, and that's probably true, but he's sure not friends with all of them.

There will be a solid core of Souths players - led by their captain Sam Burgess - who run out on Thursday night wanting to punish him for walking out on them; for choosing another team ahead of them.

And if they have their way, it won't be pretty.

Which is the last thing that Messrs Morris, White and Lockyer want to witness. They stuck their chins out from Red Hill to Redfern when they chose Seibold.

If showing the Bronco's most successful coach the door wasn't bad enough, they shafted one of the club's favourite sons, Kevvie Walters, in the process.

The spectre of Kevin Walters’ snubbing still haunts the Broncos. Picture: AAP/Steve Pohlner)
The spectre of Kevin Walters’ snubbing still haunts the Broncos. Picture: AAP/Steve Pohlner)

To say that they'd like nothing better than a big win over the Rabbitohs to justify their decision and dim the memory of Walters' snubbing, would be an understatement of mammoth proportion.

Almost as mammoth as describing this is as just another game.