THE Broncos have found themselves a defensive weapon ahead of Thursday’s blockbuster clash with the Cowboys, with former player Peter Ryan helping the side find their aggression.
Coach Wayne Bennett revealed his masterstroke in the club’s defensive overhaul after Ryan made a return to Red Hill.
The former Queensland enforcer, who played for 10 seasons at Brisbane before switching to union in 2000, was seen giving advice to a number of players and ran a few drills after the club’s shocking loss to Parramatta last Thursday.
It was clear defence was going to be a major focus for the Broncos this week, following their first training session on Sunday.
But the introduction of Ryan — who was once described by Craig Bellamy as one of the most “devastating defenders to have played the game” — is set to give Brisbane a new edge ahead of the highly anticipated showdown with their great rivals, North Queensland.
Forward Joe Ofahengaue, who missed the loss to the Eels because of suspension, said while he was only four years old when Ryan left the Broncos, the aggression he played with was something the Broncos needed to adopt.
“He played back in the old school days when everything was tougher and more ruthless than it is now,” Ofahengaue said.
“Having a player like that with his experience was pretty inspirational.
“We’re not the biggest pack in the comp. We’re probably one of the smallest. But if we bring that mongrel in the middle, we can do something special.
“(Ryan) brought that winning mentality and he’s won a few premierships so it was good to have someone here like that and to learn defensive plays off him.”
Fellow forward Matt Gillett said he also took a lot from the session with Ryan, given that neither were particularly big members of the Brisbane pack.
The 103kg Origin star said to be able to pick the brain of someone like Ryan was going to put the Broncos in good stead, not just for the Cowboys clash but also for the finals.
“He’s not the biggest forward but he showed what he could do through his aggression and made it up that way,” Gillett said.
“For us, if we don’t worry about trying to slow the play-the-ball but worry about being aggressive and hitting together, everything will take care of itself.
“It’s just a matter of doing it and getting it right from the kick-off.”
Ryan was employed as a part-time defence coach for the Broncos in the past and has also worked with the Cowboys, Queensland Reds and the ACT Brumbies.
It was a tough session for the Broncos on Monday morning but most of the squad managed to get through unscathed, with David Mead the only concern after a knee knock.
Tevita Pangai Jr (hamstring), Jordan Kahu (groin) and Ofahengaue are all expected to come back into the 17 this week.
It is unclear who will replace injured prop Korbin Sims at this stage (broken arm), but Sam Thaiday is shaping up as a likely replacement, which could enable Benji Marshall to come on to the bench and Ben Hunt to start at hooker.