My Broncos are no chance for the 2018 NRL premiership

Shakti Gounden Roar Guru

By Shakti Gounden, Shakti Gounden is a Roar Guru

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    This is the first year since I began following the Broncos in 1993 that I cannot see them competing for the premiership.

    After watching my beloved Brisbane be demolished by the Storm in last year’s elimination final, then the directionless display against the Dragons last Thursday, the dreaded fear of failure has entered my optimistic mind.

    Obviously, they have had ordinary years, but the presence of Alfie Langer or Darren Lockyer always provided a sense of assurance and confidence that come the finals, the Broncos would provide the opposition some anxiety. Not with this 2018 outfit.

    I hope to be proven wrong, but here are my reasons why they will only make up the numbers this season.

    1. Darius Boyd at fullback
    Darius Boyd has come a long way as a footballer and person, and I admire his resilience and maturity as captain of the club. But during the first State of Origin match last year, a glaring vulnerability popped up.

    The speed of the game and the intensity of kick-returns have changed. Boyd, however, has persevered with the same style of play he possessed when he was playing for the Dragons and the Knights.

    In recent times, Boyd has gone down the pecking order for the best custodians, with incumbent Australian fullback Billy Slater, James Tedesco, Tom Trbojevic and even Clint Gutherson ahead of him.

    The chief reason is that they are natural attackers.

    Boyd is probably the best defensive fullback, but the state of the modern game means one must possess attacking flair and creativity, along with sound defence. In terms of tackle breaks, line-breaks, and running metres in 2017, Boyd struggled to feature.

    Boyd does not possess a strong kicking game either, meaning the Broncos’ attack has become over-reliant on Boyd’s second man play when he joins the attacking line and creates space for his outside men. Though he does that well, opposing teams have started to cut his time and space down and have limited his effectiveness.

    As a result, Brisbane’s attack has become one-dimensional and rudderless. Add to that his ongoing hamstring concerns and the Broncos have a huge problem.

    Boyd would be better suited at centre or five-eighth.

    Darius Boyd of the Brisbane Broncos celebrates

    AAP Image/Dan Peled

    2. Size and mobility of forwards
    Brisbane’s strength in previous years was defined by their dominating forward packs, but the 2018 frontline lacks both physicality and mobility.

    A lot relies on Matt Gillett and Josh McGuire both in attack and defence. The Dragons forwards, led by Tyson Frizell, James Graham and Paul Vaughan, totally ran over the Broncos starting forwards in their Round 1 clash.

    Losing exciting young forwards Herman Ese’ese and Jarrod Wallace to other clubs, and Andre Savelio to a season-ending injury punched a hole in the team’s blueprint.

    Though some youngsters have talent and a bright future, 2018 will be a transitional year and not a successful one.

    Gone are the days where Brisbane forwards would grind their opposition through the middle and provide opportunities for their classy playmakers such as Lockyer, Langer and the likes to wreak havoc.

    3. The halves’ kicking game
    When I read that Anthony Milford was coming to the Broncos from the Canberra Raiders, I said, “Thank you Lord!”

    But Milford the fullback was much more electrifying than Milford the five-eighth. Both Milford and Kodi Nikorima are skilful running halves but the deficiencies in their kicking games cannot be concealed. Their fifth-tackle options have been abysmal and have given the opposition seven-tackle sets numerous times.

    At periods last year when Nikorima shifted to fullback, Brisbane looked dangerous. But I still feel he is best suited as an impact player off the bench.

    So who do the Broncos then put at halfback? Ben Hunt moving to the Dragons is a big loss, as he had a superior kicking game than both Milford and Nikorima, and created more options.

    Wayne Bennett would have had a bittersweet moment of realisation when his tactical move of shifting Hunt to hooker late last season was successful, as by then Hunt had already signed with the Dragons. And wasn’t he brilliant for the Dragons against his old club last week?

    I am sorry to say, but even having the assistance of Queensland coach and ex-Bronco Kevin Walters will prove futile. Kicking game comes naturally to the best halves in our game, and it’s a crucial aspect to winning games of football.

    Kodi Nikorimab of the Broncos jogs into score on day two of the Dick Smith NRL Auckland Nines rugby league tournament at Eden Park in Auckland on 16 February 2014. Photo: www.photosport.co.nz

    Photo: www.photosport.co.nz

    4. Wayne Bennett is coming to the end of his coaching career
    Bennett seems a lot more riled up and annoyed over the last couple of years. All great managers possess stubbornness and ego, and Bennett is no different, but it has never been more evident than now.

    The master coach had a wonderful chance to sign Mitchell Pearce, who would have been a great addition to the squad, but Bennett said the then-Roosters’ half would not fit into the team’s culture. Bennett’s self-control has also been dwindling, as illustrated by his open criticism of the Cronulla Sharks for their handling of Jack Bird.

    Tactically, Bennett seems to be applying a very un-Brisbane approach, such as playing Sam Thaiday at hooker instead of Andrew McCullough in the season opener, playing an injured Boyd in their loss against the Storm in the finals, and playing a more ad-lib, dangerous and entertaining style of football – it’s not what the Broncos are about.

    I really hope Wayne Bennett adds an eighth NRL premiership title to his already glittering career, but I doubt that will happen this year.

    If he steps down, there is an excellent replacement waiting in the form of Kevin Walters.

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    The Crowd Says (93)

    • March 13th 2018 @ 5:18am
      Fraser said | March 13th 2018 @ 5:18am | ! Report

      As a Broncos fan, I’m not prepared to write them off completely after one game of footy. However, they certainly displayed some very disappointing signs that align with pre-season predictions.

      1. I’m not sure that Boyd not being as dynamic as the likes of Slater and Tedesco is the worry, as that’s just the kind of player he is. He has always been frustrating to watch when you want him to go 100 miles an hour, but he just ambles into the line and takes a dive. He’s a safety first player who makes very few errors, and contributes to the Broncos attack with his second man plays. The real worry is that he is still clearly carrying a hamstring injury.
      2. Their forward pack is in big trouble this year. Losing Ese’ese was a major blow.
      3. Completely agree. Kicking game is rubbish. What they are also missing is that one player (generally the halfback) who wants the ball in their hands, directing their players around the park. Neither Milford or Nikorima offer that, and seem to both be naturally quiet and under-spoken types. Broncos have no leadership.
      4. I hope Bennett has something up his sleeve, because the Broncos haven’t managed to change their attacking structure if Round 1 is anything to go by. The second man play is their go-to attacking play which has become very predictable. They need to look at the more expansive style of footy offered by Melbourne, although may not have the cattle to execute.

      • Roar Guru

        March 13th 2018 @ 10:38am
        Rellum said | March 13th 2018 @ 10:38am | ! Report

        Boyd is more of a worry with the state of his body and if that is still up to playing at that level.

        I have never been a fan of his, his running game is not amazing, his passing game is decent and his defence is very good. He didn’t put his body on the line the other night like he normally would in cleaning up kicks so I really am starting to think this hammy injury might be the end of him.

      • Roar Guru

        March 13th 2018 @ 11:11am
        Shakti Gounden said | March 13th 2018 @ 11:11am | ! Report

        Yes Fraser,

        I am certainly sure that Boyd’s hamstring is not totally right. I think the Broncos will make the eight but as I mentioned I do not think they have the polish to win a premiership this year.

    • March 13th 2018 @ 6:35am
      i miss the force said | March 13th 2018 @ 6:35am | ! Report

      I think the kicking game of halves is your best point. Boyd will get back to his best

    • Roar Guru

      March 13th 2018 @ 7:28am
      Walter Penninger said | March 13th 2018 @ 7:28am | ! Report

      Maybe Hass could be a Kikau

    • March 13th 2018 @ 7:47am
      Gray-Hand said | March 13th 2018 @ 7:47am | ! Report

      I wouldn’t be so quick to write off Bennett. Just about any other team that had as many injuries to key positions like the Broncos had would probably have missed the 8. The fact that Brisbane were able to completely change their style to all our attack and do so successfully speaks volumes of the coaching talent.

      • March 13th 2018 @ 9:19am
        i miss the force said | March 13th 2018 @ 9:19am | ! Report

        they had few injuries

      • Roar Guru

        March 13th 2018 @ 11:15am
        Shakti Gounden said | March 13th 2018 @ 11:15am | ! Report

        Absolutely agree that Bennett is and will always be a legendary coach and ain’t gonna be a better man manager in this game. Just my opinion that lately, he has been not his composed self. I would love for him to prove me and the other doubters wrong which he generally does!

      • March 13th 2018 @ 2:14pm
        RandyM said | March 13th 2018 @ 2:14pm | ! Report

        like the cowboys and panthers?

        • March 13th 2018 @ 3:05pm
          Gray-Hand said | March 13th 2018 @ 3:05pm | ! Report

          Cowboys were amazing the way they coped with their injuries, but they barely squeaked into the top 8, whereas the Broncos cane 3rd. Penrith had a very easy draw last year, so the comparison isn’t apt.

    • March 13th 2018 @ 8:15am
      Nico said | March 13th 2018 @ 8:15am | ! Report

      IMO the lack of metres up front is the biggest question mark but I’ll wait to see if they can click into gear once McCullough gets back to full match fitness. He’s an 80 minute player and makes about 50 tackles a game. Without him Brisbane use up an extra sub and the forwards become less effective covering his defensive load

    • Roar Rookie

      March 13th 2018 @ 8:26am
      Squidward said | March 13th 2018 @ 8:26am | ! Report

      They’re cooked, arrogant coach, obnoxious fans and a completely unbalanced team with too many distractions

      • Roar Guru

        March 13th 2018 @ 9:10am
        Emcie said | March 13th 2018 @ 9:10am | ! Report

        geez mate, get on topic, not everything is about your team

      • Roar Guru

        March 13th 2018 @ 11:54am
        Nat said | March 13th 2018 @ 11:54am | ! Report

        Would it be far more balanced if they bought every FB in Sydney then played a winger back there. Better to have obnoxious fans than a Pep squad 😉

        • Roar Rookie

          March 13th 2018 @ 12:50pm
          Squidward said | March 13th 2018 @ 12:50pm | ! Report

          That actually is Broncos plan from 2015!

          • Roar Guru

            March 13th 2018 @ 1:43pm
            Nat said | March 13th 2018 @ 1:43pm | ! Report

            When they bought one FB and played him there ever since? Touché

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