Wayne Bennett said the Broncos' non-Origin players need to lift during the middle part of the season following the team's 40-16 loss to the Bulldogs.
Bennett blamed the loss on a period of scoring by the opposition while many of his Origin players were on the bench and said he needs more from the players who don't have that extra workload through the middle of the year.
Bennett didn't name names but halfback Ben Hunt has looked out of sorts for a few weeks. He missed four tackles in the loss to go with 11 in the club's last-start win over Canberra. Prop Adam Blair came up with a poor miss for David Klemmer's try and threw a misjudged offload with his side on attack right after half time to concede possession at 10-4 down and the Dogs scored shortly after in what proved a huge turning point in the game.
Asked after the game if the non-Origin players had played to their potential, Bennett was blunt.
"No. I definitely didn't think that," Bennett said.
"I wasn't disappointed in the Origin guys, I thought they were tremendous and when they weren't on the field we realised how much we missed them. There was another 12 players that didn't play Origin."
Pressed about the form of his halves pairing of Hunt and Anthony Milford, Bennett added: "It's not what we want.
"Part of the reason we had such a wonderful season last year was because of their form."
Bennett said the team lost the game in the 10 minutes after half-time with the likes of Corey Parker and Josh McGuire off the field, but added he couldn't justify playing them for huge minutes three days after a gruelling Origin game.
"I had my top players on the bench and I didn't have any real alternative with that in my view because they're backing up from Origin and I just can't justify myself to absolutely kill them out there and then we've got to back up again on Friday night. It's the price you pay this time of year," he said.
Bennett has already rested back-rower Matt Gillett and winger Corey Oates from a club game to help manage their Origin commitments and said while he wants to do the same for Parker and McGuire, the team's current predicament doesn't allow him to.
"I want to try and give Corey [Parker] a rest if I can, and Josh, but right now we probably can't do that," he said.
"You get in that situation where you want to rest them but at the same time you need them because your performances are down. You know what they bring all the time, they bring a high standard, particularly Corey and Josh and you know what you're going to get from them."
Though Bennett could still afford to joke at the expense of suspended Maroons forward Sam Thaiday.
"Sam gave himself a rest so he's looked after," Bennett smiled.