“You’ll never divide us.”
That was the message from a defiant Wayne Bennett after Brisbane hit back at their critics with a 24-20 NRL round two win over North Queensland at a packed Lang Park.
No fan of the media at the best of times, Broncos coach Bennett took aim at the press after the stirring win capped a tough fortnight at the office.
The Broncos were first criticised for signing Matt Lodge after his 2015 New York drunken rampage before being written off in the wake of their woeful 34-12 season-opening loss to St George Illawarra.
The post-match press conference appeared over before an unprompted Bennett fired a shot at the media.
“There is no other club in any sport in this country who would have pulled together in the last couple of weeks after all the adversity that we have been through,” he said.
“That’s what I am most proud of.
“You will never divide us guys, so stay out of it.
“Our strength is our club and our people.”
As a journalist tried to ask him a follow up question, Bennett got up and walked out of the press conference with captain Darius Boyd.
Bennett still had plenty to be delighted about after under fire five-eighth Anthony Milford rediscovered his running game to spark a Broncos fightback after they trailed 8-0 after as many minutes on Friday night.
And fired-up prop Tevita Pangai inspired the maligned Broncos pack in the four-tries-to-three win claimed in bizarre circumstances.
Cowboys forward Scott Bolton looked set to score what would have been the winning try with 90 seconds left before running into the goal post and dropping the ball.
Pangai scored a match-turning 18th minute try, made 74m and pulled off plenty of big hits to fire up a Broncos pack that had been dismissed as too small to make a finals run after round one.
Pangai followed Bennett’s lead after the match, saving his final hit-up for the media.
“I was pretty fired up. You guys bagged us so you can take credit for that,” he said.
“Keep bagging us every week and we might keep getting a win.
“We were disappointed [with our opening loss]. Our completion rate was terrible — you can’t win footy games like that.”
Milford resisted the temptation to fire back despite backing up his pre-match vow to reignite his running game against the Cowboys.
“It [media scrutiny] comes part and parcel with playing at the Broncos — it’s a big club that demands success,” Milford said.
“But I think we are going in the right direction.”