ICYMI, on Thursday the @NRL - National Rugby League released the 2018 #NRLDraw.
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Coach Wayne Bennett revealed he was surprised by Brisbane's flying start to the NRL season after the Broncos crushed the Cowboys 36-2 in the Queensland derby at Suncorp Stadium.
Unfazed by the late withdrawal of skipper Darren Lockyer after earlier losing fullback Karmichael Hunt to injury, Brisbane delivered a defensive shut out, keeping the Cowboys tryless in front of a record home crowd of 50,612.
"I didn't expect to be three and zero," admitted Bennett after the ease of Brisbane's third straight win.
"The way we've played the last few weeks there was certainly lots of reason to be confident in them .... that part wasn't worrying me," added Bennett when asked how he felt losing Lockyer so late.
"I thought it would be a tight game and I was hoping we could do enough just to get up and win.
"I didn't expect what happened."
After weathering the physical Cowboys in the opening 20 minutes, Brisbane opened up with three tries in six minutes to lead 18-2 at half time.
"Our defence has been good and it was good enough tonight, it was better than good, it was excellent because the Cowboys can throw a lot at you.
"We hung in and the first 20 minutes was where the game was won, we kinda broke their hearts a little bit there."
Cowboys coach Graham Murray wasn't happy with the performance, bagging his team's effort after they went into the game with plenty of confidence on learning of Lockyer's withdrawal.
"We started poorly for the season and that was probably our worst performance of the three," said Murray.
"They played alright.
"Obviously a couple of players they didn't have in their team (Lockyer and Hunt) made me fairly confident before the game."
The Broncos head south next weekend to face defending premiers Melbourne, who smashed them in the finals last year, full of confidence and with Lockyer and Hunt both expected back.
"If you go down there three and zero you go down with a lot of confidence and that's the best chance you've got.
"You can't go down there without confidence, we learned that at the end of the season last year when we were shot and gone.
"This is a different footy team now and a different year."
Bennett knew Lockyer wasn't right at training yesterday but managed to keep it quiet.
"We realised we had some problems at training yesterday when I saw him running," said Bennett
"We had a couple of conversations out on the field and he came back this morning hoping it had settled down enough for him to play but after doing some work this morning he realised it wasn't right and we didn't want to risk him.
"The important thing is there's no structural damage and it's just soreness.
"We did the best thing for him today by making sure he didn't play.
Cowboys five-eighth eight Travis Burns was placed on report for a first half lifting tackle on Brisbane winger Denan Kemp while prop Matt Scott will have scans on Saturday on a high ankle sprain suffered in the second half of the loss.