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Anthony Seibold faces a daunting task taking over from Wayne Bennett at the Broncos.
After losing three experienced forwards in Josh McGuire, Sam Thaiday and Korbin Sims, the Broncos forwards are largely young and inexperienced players, albeit with great potential.
Anthony Seibold will also need to erase the memory of the Broncos 18-48 defeat to the Dragons in their last game of 2018 in the elimination final at their home ground of Suncorp Stadium.
The young guns in the Broncos forwards are more renowned for their attack than their defence, but it is defence that will be key to being competitive in 2019.
Seibold, after his recent swap from Souths, has recognised the problem in the Broncos forward pack with the acquisition of Cowboys defensive forward Shaun Fensom. Andrew McCullough and Matt Gillett are the only other experienced forwards in the Broncos roster.
Matt Lodge played well in his first season with the Broncos last year, as did Tevita Pangai Junior, but it is a big ask to expect the likes of Joe Ofahengaue, Jaydn Su’A, David Fifita, Payne Haas and Kotoni Staggs to deliver week after week in the NRL premiership.
The Broncos face a tough draw generally, playing the Storm, Cowboys, Roosters, Sharks, Rabbitohs, Warriors, Titans, Eels and Bulldogs twice.
The Broncos also face a very tough start to the 2019 season, meeting Melbourne at AAMI Park, North Queensland at Suncorp Stadium and St George Illawarra at Suncorp in the opening three rounds. Memories of their elimination-final defeat to the Dragons will be fresh in players’ minds. Round 4 will then see them face 2018 premiers Sydney at the SCG.
If the Broncos cannot salvage at least one win from the first four matches, they may lose confidence, especially if they suffer any early big defeats.
There will be few easy matches in 2019 for the Broncos forward pack, with teams such as the Newcastle Knights, Gold Coast Titans, St George Illawarra Dragons and Canberra Raiders all boasting big experienced packs capable of putting severe pressure on the young Broncos forwards.
I’m predicting a long season for the Broncos in which they’ll struggle to make the finals.