Jake Turpin has bristled at suggestions Brisbane are destined for another NRL wooden spoon and laid out his intention to become an 80-minute hooker under new coach Kevin Walters.
The Broncos No.9 managed just six games in a 2020 season punctuated by leg and hand fractures, forcing him to watch the carnage from the sidelines as the proud club finished last for the first time.
Fit again, the Melbourne Storm junior is set to steer the Broncos around the park in Friday's opener against Parramatta alongside another former Storm product Brodie Croft, who looks likely to wear the No.7 ahead of Tom Dearden.
Walters has inherited a similar squad to last season, although David Fifita's move to Gold Coast has created a tough void to fill.
Turpin was bullish though when asked why he thought they'd improve.
"We won't be winning the wooden spoon (again) I'll tell you that right now," he said on Tuesday.
"We have a lot of confidence in ourselves and we're excited to go out there and show everyone on Friday night we're a team that can make the top eight.
"I'm sick of the wooden spoon chat; it was last year, long ago and we've got a lot of belief that we can go deep and be in the top eight his year."
He said Croft had done everything to climb back into contention after he was dropped from the side for teenager Dearden last season.
"I played a lot of footy with him down in Melbourne and I'm pretty excited to play another game with him and I said that to him just as we went out to training today," Turpin said.
"He's one of the hardest workers I've seen; he leaves no stone unturned and works his arse off."
Turpin is confident he can help the Broncos better control the ruck speed after they were exposed in that department last season.
And he hopes to be a constant probing presence this season.
"I've got my body right, put a bit more weight on to help me play 80 minutes and that's what I'm striving for," he said.
"I want to play 80 minutes, doing little things away from footy, a bit of mindfulness training to help me relax, to help me get through the whole year."
Centre Herbie Farnworth, who is recovering from minor chest surgery, also trained strongly on Tuesday to indicate he would be fit to face the Eels.
Australian Associated Press