Back in 2006, the Broncos were reeling after losing five games in a row. Enter Steve Renouf, an old jersey and a motivational speech for the ages that help lift them to grand final glory.
An old jersey, an old player and an old-fashioned injection of pure passion.
That was the simple magic trick that helped turn the 2006 Brisbane Broncos from a team which lost five in a row into premiership winners and it’s worth retelling as the currently listless Broncos search for the electrical current which will hoist them out of a five-match slump.
Gifted centre Steve Renouf confirmed the story of how a random phone call to Wayne Bennett when the Broncos were at the bottom of their 2006 form slump saw him thrust into the unlikely role of team motivator.
“The Broncos were not playing well and I said a few things to Wayne over the phone and he just put it on me and said, ‘Come in and speak to the group’,’’ Renouf said.
“I was not expecting that. He got me on the back foot but they reacted to it. I went to our old meeting room with the players and I took my old No.3 grand final jersey from 1992.
“I said to them, ‘This is my old jersey … no one has taken it off me yet. I want someone to do it. All of the old boys want you to take our jerseys’.
“We talked about that.
“Pride in the jersey.
“They got the jersey and actually took it to the grand final and put it up on the wall of the dressingroom. I remember saying to one of the strappers, ‘Make sure I get that back’.
“They ended up winning the grand final (against the Melbourne Storm 15-8).
“Wayne never said anything to me about it at the time but years later I had coffee with him, and as he got out of the car, he said ‘Thanks for that 2006 as well’.’’
Is it time to bring the 28-year-old jersey out of mothballs for one last tub-thumping address?
“I don’t know. They are a different group. I saw a few people on Twitter comment over how when they lost they stayed around and played buddy, buddy on the field.
“I cannot get my head around that … get in the sheds and suffer.
“I look and that and I ask whether they really care. Are they worried about that loss?’’
The unfortunate reality is the Broncos’ ties with their old boys network have become fractured in recent seasons.
The players have deep-seated respect and loyalty to two former players – Darren Lockyer, because he is the last great Broncos, and Allan Langer, because he is Allan Langer – but beyond that there is little widespread attachment to the champions of the past.
It’s a shame because they have much to offer – including an old jersey and a old-fashioned spirit that once drove them to special places.