Rather than give Scott Prince a tap on the shoulder, Brisbane coach Anthony Griffin has provided the veteran pivot a pat on the back ahead of the 2014 NRL season.
Prince appeared on borrowed time at Brisbane after reports claimed the 33-year-old was told he was not guaranteed NRL action next year and had contemplated retirement.
Once speculation emerged that unsettled star Anthony Milford could be slotted in as Broncos five-eighth next year if released by Canberra, Prince looked like a dead man walking.
But Griffin seemed bemused by the claims on Thursday, saying Prince would decide when his time was up after helping inspire Brisbane to a four-game unbeaten run that has kept their NRL finals hopes alive.
Asked if Prince had turned it around since being told he may not be in the NRL mix next year, Griffin said: “It would be a good motivator if they get told that.
“You guys are writing the stuff that you hear.
“Scott Prince is playing some good football.
“It’s a credit to him over the last month he has been able to lift.”
Asked if Prince could be wearing the No.6 jersey again next year, Griffin said: “He could be, yeah.
“He’s doing a good job. He’s obviously coming toward the end of his career, (but) when that is will be up to him.”
Rather than sweat on Milford’s availability, Griffin said he liked what he saw from Prince in a new-look halves pairing with Ben Hunt.
“It has been a challenge for him but his defensive game is getting better each week,” Griffin said of Prince.
“And when a guy like him gets confidence out of that the rest of his game gets better.
“That’s why we brought him here, in the important games to be at his best.”
And Friday night’s clash at Penrith doesn’t get much more important.
The 10th-placed Broncos have moved to within one point of the top eight with three rounds left but must keep winning to scrape in.
One slip-up would also spell the end for 12th-placed Penrith, who snapped a three-game losing run with a shock 28-24 last round win away to the Warriors.
Griffin said the battle of the halves would be crucial in the crunch clash but hinted the jury was still out on his young halfback Hunt.
“He’s been patchy,” he said.
“Over his four games he has has shown some real brilliance but also faded out of games at times, but he understands that.
“There’s another level he needs to find to really stamp himself as a top No.7.”