Newcastle Knights coach Wayne Bennett will face the Brisbane Broncos, the team he is rejoining next year, in round 24.
Newcastle Knights coach Wayne Bennett will face the Brisbane Broncos, the team he is rejoining next year, in round 24. Mark Nolan Getty

Bennett and Griffin face tough end to their reigns

NEWCASTLE coach Wayne Bennett and the man he will replace at Brisbane next season, Anthony Griffin, face two challenging months as they battle to get the best from their players for different reasons.

To make the finals the Knights have to win their last seven games, starting with tonight's clash against the defending premiers, the Roosters. That will be followed by games against the Rabbitohs (away), Storm (home), Warriors (home) Broncos (away), Eels (home) and Dragons (away).

Every one of those sides sit above Newcastle on the ladder, and with Bennett confirming through the week he was returning home to Brisbane next season, it will be interesting to see how deep his players are prepared to dig knowing he is walking out on them a year ahead of schedule.

Bennett's round-24 clash with Brisbane looms as an epic for many reasons, and the outcome will no doubt ignite another wave of debate about his homecoming.

Griffin, who is certain to attract another NRL gig, has seven games to get the Broncos as high as possible on the ladder before the finals start in September.

But, like Bennett, he has a very tough draw to contend with, starting at home tonight against the Storm, who are also on 22 premiership points.

The run home doesn't get any easier with games against the Sea Eagles (away), Bulldogs (home), Knights (home), Dragons (home) and a return clash away with Melbourne.

Storm coach Craig Bellamy, who has not lost a game to the Brisbane coach in six previous meetings, expressed some sympathy for Griffin through the week.

"You have to feel for Griffin, he's done a pretty good job with Brisbane," he said.

"They (Brisbane) could fire up or they could come out flat, I don't know."



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