Could the solution to the Brisbane Broncos’ halves problem be right under their noses?
It’s no secret the Broncos’ halves combination was one of the main reason they hadn’t performed to their full potential in 2018.
Don’t get me wrong, I’m a huge fan of Anthony Milford and Kodi Nikorima individually but together, they are not a good match.
I also understand what Wayne Bennett was trying to do.
Most NRL coaches look to have two types of halves, a runner of the ball and a playmaker who steers the team around the park.
Bennett looked to opt for two runners and use the experience of Andrew McCullough to steer the team around.
Throw into the mix Jack Bird as the third running half who could have transitioned into a playmaker, and it doesn’t sound too bad in theory – but it was a huge gamble.
What Bennett didn’t plan on was the huge injury toll they copped throughout the year.
I still think he relied too much on Jack Bird.
What is wrong with buying, or developing a young, playmaker?
Well, there was one option right under their nose.
The young 24-year-old captain for the Redcliffe Dolphins, Cameron Cullen.
I’ll be upfront from the start, I am a huge fan of Cullen and have been from the start of his career in the Intrust Super Cup (Qld Cup).
Joining the Burleigh Bears in 2016, Cullen debuted in the NRL for the Gold Coast Titans and then later in the year took the Bears to a premiership win.
In 2017, Cullen joined the Manly Sea Eagles and played five games off the bench as a utility.
Late 2017, Cullen was released from his Sea Eagles contract due to family reasons and signed with the Adam Mogg-coached Redcliffe Dolphins.
Cullen told Mogg he wanted to take on a senior role in this squad and shortly after was appointed the captain.
In September 2018, Cullen led the Dolphins to their first premiership in many years.
Cullen is a natural playmaker, always looking for opportunities in every attacking play.
Nine Network commentator Scott Sattler has previously praised Cullen on how he attacks the defensive line.
Most playmakers will sit back and watch and see what happens.
Not Cullen, when he receives the ball, he accelerates.
Making it harder for the defensive-line to read what he is about to do.
Defensively, Cullen is similar to Johnathan Thurston. At 80kg, he’s not the biggest guy on the field but will throw his body into any challenge in front of him.
One thing to note here is the Dolphins are a feeder club to the Broncos.
So why was Cullen overlooked?
Yes, ten NRL games isn’t a huge amount of first-grade experience but he has at least had a taste of what to expect.
This on the surface appears to be a huge oversight for the Broncos.
A young playmaker with a different take on his role, but also a mature mindset to handle the big stage, as captain.
I understand the Broncos have bigger problems at the moment but if they aren’t keeping a close eye on this young playmaker, they will not stand a chance for 2019.