Since their inception in 1988, the Brisbane Broncos have been a rugby league powerhouse. So how will they fare in 2013?
A top shelf forward pack and back row in particular. Despite losing Ben Te’o, the Broncos will field an extremely classy pack with Ben Hannant and Casey McGuire in the front row, Andrew McCullough at hooker and Alex Glenn, Sam Thaiday and Corey Parker in the back row.
To add to the imposing starting pack, the Broncos have the seriously underrated David Stagg, highly skilled Matt Gillett, and host of hulking props like Scott Anderson, David Hala, Mitchell Dodds and Dunamis Lui.
The Broncos lack depth in their backline. The loss of Kiwi international Gerard Beale is compounded by the fact Queensland and Australian winger Jharal Yow Yeh has just returned to running and thus is not certain to line-up on the field in round one. That leaves Dale Copley and while he’s a handy player to have around Origin time, not too many clubs would be climbing over each other for his signature when his contract expires.
However Jack Reed is a solid, defensively minded centre and Justin Hodges is the polar opposite, which I think makes for a good balance.
Brisbane will not make the top eight. Apart from Hodges, it’s a backline that lacks any real class. The acquisition of Scott Prince raises a few selection headaches in the halves because by signing Prince in the middle of a contract, there is nearly an obligation to start him.
It is an odd signing, as Prince’s last two seasons have been below par and marred with injury and I really can’t see where he is ahead of Peter Wallace.
Wallace is a solid defender, a real trier but doesn’t create enough opportunities for his outside men. He is basically an ugly Mitchell Pearce.
So that leaves five-eighth. Corey Norman needs to step up. He has a dangerous running game but needs to give his team more direction. I would prefer to see him at fullback, where he can concentrate on his running game, but with Josh Hoffman there it is unlikely to happen.
Will finish 10th.