Broncos coach Anthony Griffin has denied there is any bad blood between him and Ben Hannant and expects the dumped prop to stay.
Rift? What rift?
Brisbane coach Anthony Griffin claims he’s surprised to hear talk of bad blood between him and Ben Hannant and expects the dumped ex-Test prop to see out his 2014 NRL contract.
Asked whether he would release Hannant if the reportedly disgruntled, off-contract forward asked, Griffin said on Thursday: “No. Why would he do that?”
On paper there appear to be a few reasons.
Hannant, 29, averages 103m and 27 tackles a match and notched a season-high 159m in Brisbane’s last game against South Sydney – all coming off the bench.
Yet Griffin has preferred Sydney Roosters recruit Martin Kennedy who averages 71m and 23 tackles a match, making him the least productive Brisbane prop.
Hannant – who played in five straight State of Origin series wins for Queensland until 2012 – was even pipped for a bench spot this week by fringe forward David Hala.
What made the call more surprising was that Brisbane – already without Test backrower Sam Thaiday (calf) – will on Friday take on North Queensland, who boast what Griffin admits is arguably the NRL’s best pack.
It only seemed to add to speculation that Hannant – one of the highest-paid Broncos at around $500,000 – could seek a release and not see out his contract.
But at an awkward press conference, Griffin insisted Hannant’s dumping was performance-based.
“It was a very tough call,” Griffin said.
“I haven’t heard the rift rumours.
“He was alright (when dumped), same as Todd Lowrie would have taken it a few weeks ago, like any player.
“I made a call. Ben knows what I want him to improve on and understands where I am coming from. We have been black and white about it.
“It’s not a major issue.”
Asked if Hannant had a future at the Broncos, Griffin said: “I think so, like any other player.
“He’s been here a while and done a good job for us.”
When pressed on his Hannant call, Griffin said: “I care about all of our players.
“Sometimes telling them what they don’t want to hear is the way to help them the most.
“But what I say to a player about selection is between me and the player.
“It is not a turkey shoot. I am trying to get the guy to improve his football and I am here to help him.”
Griffin admitted a big challenge awaited Kennedy against a Cowboys pack boasting the Test front row of Matt Scott and James Tamou.
“He (Kennedy) has been like us, he’s not been at his best every week,” he said.
“He’s got an opportunity to do a job for us tomorrow night so we will see what happens.”