Brisbane coach Wayne Bennett has hit back at suggestions he's lost his coaching aura with a decisive win over NRL premiers Cronulla on Thursday night - but said his team did most of the talking for him.
The Broncos brought Cronulla's long summer of premiership celebrations to an abrupt end on Thursday night with a 26-18 victory in the season opener at Southern Cross Group Stadium.
It comes after criticism from club great Greg Dowling that the supercoach was under pressure to get his team into the top four, let alone break their 11-year premiership drought.
But after watching his men put away the Sharks, Bennett took aim at those south of the Tweed for questioning his coaching abilities.
"I've always let my teams do my talking for me," Bennett said. "Write what you want. They were good here [against the Sharks]. White smoke's been coming out of Sydney full-time for about a month now. It is what it is."
Broncos captain Darius Boyd was arguably his side's best, particularly on set plays in good-ball position where he had a hand in two of their four tries.
Winger Corey Oates put in a whole-hearted effort, while all five starting forwards, including new recruit Korbin Sims, carried the ball for over 100m each.
Five-eighth Anthony Milford sealed the match with a moment of brilliance late in the game, stepping off both feet before powering over two defenders to the tryline.
However, Bennett refused to single out a player for their performance, instead praising his team for withstanding a second-half Sharks comeback despite losing Alex Glenn to concussion.
"We didn't have a bad player. They all had to put their hand up and they did that. We couldn't have won here if we didn't," Bennett said.
"They all made a contribution. We had to - Cronulla played like a premiership team. They had a lot of confidence about themselves. That's what a premiership does for you.
"It gives you confidence and belief. They never thought they were beaten at any stage of the game. We had to overcome all those things. I was pleased with what we did."
Cronulla coach Shane Flanagan, meanwhile, is adamant his team haven't lost focus despite the reigning NRL premiers' disappointing display.
In stark contrast to last year's all-conquering outfit, Flanagan's men completed just two-thirds of their 32 sets, missed almost twice as many tackles, and were on the wrong side of a 10-5 penalty count. AAP