Jeff Dickinson-Fox reviews the campaign which saw Melbourne Storm crowned premiers in 2017.
4 days ago
Incoming coach Ivan Henjak says there is too much history and culture at Brisbane for the NRL club to be torn apart by rumour and speculation about where players may go next season.
Assistant Henjak steps up next season when foundation coach Wayne Bennett heads to St George Illawarra after 21 seasons and six premierships with the Broncos.
There's already been speculation some of Brisbane's off-contract players will follow Bennett and high performance director Jeremy Hickmans who is moving with him to the Dragons next season.
Clubs have cracked in the past when coaches and big name stars have announced mid-season they're going elsewhere the following year.
Brisbane chief executive Bruno Cullen has put the heat on several players coming off contract - including prop Ben Hannant and hooker Michael Ennis - to make a decision on their futures as speculation mounted some could be bound for the Dragons.
Henjak displayed an admirable confidence when it was suggested a perceived battle with Bennett to hang onto several players coming off contract could undermine Brisbane's quest for a seventh premiership.
"You'd like to think everyone's pretty professional and we've got an important job to do here," said Henjak.
"I certainly don't want to jeopardise 2008 and I'm sure Wayne (Bennett) doesn't want to jeopardise 2008.
"We think we're in with a show if we keep everybody nice and happy and healthy on the field and stay focused and not get distracted by all these things.
"There's a lot of things to play out yet but we're all professional to know we've got to get on with 2008, that's the most important thing.
"These things don't change the harmony or the friendships in the group.
"It's the job we're in.
"If a player leaves, sure, we'll be disappointed to lose him but we're still all friends and we'll get on with life.
"We'll be happy for them if they've got themselves a good deal."
Henjak admitted the challenge would come if things got tough at some stage and the club "hit a hurdle" on the playing field.
"I've seen a real difference in this group's form pre-season and the way they've come together, they're a pretty close bunch of guys," said Henjak.
"I'm sure if the signs of that are appearing they'll sit down and nut it out.
"They've been pretty honest with each other that way."
With the club announcing legends Allan Langer and Shane Webcke as full-time coaching assistants next season and the return of 2006 premiership-winning high performance guru Dean Bennett, Henjak has a strong cast to help him make his senior coaching debut.
There's every likelihood Hannant, Brisbane local David Stagg and injured centre Steve Michael will re-sign while Ennis, already linked with a return to the Dragons with Bennett, could also be targeted by Newcastle as a ready made replacement for Danny Buderus.
We're close to signing a few players but I'd rather not say who in case they get dirty on me and change their minds," said Cullen.