Jeff Dickinson-Fox reviews the campaign which saw Melbourne Storm crowned premiers in 2017.
3 days ago
Senior coach-in-waiting Ivan Henjak looked the part as he prepared Brisbane for Sunday's showdown with beaten grand finalists Manly without Wayne Bennett looking over his shoulder.
With Bennett entrenched in New Zealand's Sydney Test camp conspiring against Ricky Stuart's Kangaroos, Henjak ran another impressive session, even getting into players who dropped off the pace.
"He's a bit angry, he got a bit angry today," said veteran lock Tonie Carroll, confident the hamstring tightness which restricted his training wouldn't prevent him playing.
"He's done a great job this week and I can see why the Broncos have signed him for the next two years."
Henjak is always heavily involved in the team's training.
This week he has enjoyed the sole responsibility of coaching the side and directing his assistants Peter Ryan and Paul Green who'll be part of his staff next season.
"Ivan pretty much runs the (training) show anyway and Benny (Bennett) just chimes in when he feels like it," said Carroll.
Carroll was very confident he and key utility and defensive specialist David Stagg (hamstring tightness) would both be right to tackle Manly on Mother's Day.
Stagg has done an excellent job in the No.6 this season, a role Carroll has been thrown into in the past.
"We haven't got it done (without Lockyer) before because we've had idiots like me playing five-eighth," joked Carroll.
"Staggy's got a few more ball skills than I do and he's doing a great job."
Stagg's immaculate defence - he owns the club record of 64 tackles in a game - makes life easier for Carroll who usually defends alongside Lockyer.
"It's good to have Staggy beside you, guys don't tend to run down the right side as much.
"Normally with Locky there we get a bit of traffic but Staggy doesn't miss too many."
Battle-scarred Carroll, 32, is determined not to miss a minute of his final season but had no regrets about stepping down from Origin duty after 18 games for Queensland since 1998.
Asked if he was comfortable with his decision, Carroll said: "I'm over the moon actually.
"I'm really happy, I can focus all my energy on the Broncos and hopefully it pays off and we get a few wins while the Origin boys are away."
Brisbane won't have the same heavy Origin representation as in past years, which Carroll believes will be a bonus later in the season.
Lockyer is out indefinitely until he has more surgery on his right knee but Brisbane have shown this year they can cope without him a lot better, even though they'd prefer him on the field calling the shots.
"Wal (Peter Wallace) has stepped into the role fantastically well and has taken over things," said Carroll.
"It would be great to have Locky out there but David Stagg is playing his best football ever and Wal's been great."
Carroll has been passing on his knowledge to some of the younger players but said he had no intention of joining Brisbane's "old boys" coaching staff once he hangs up his boots at the end of the season.
"Hell no, this will be it for me. When I walk away, I walk away for good," he said.