This is now the Brisbane Broncos’ equal second-worst start to a season ever and, barring a miracle, I cannot see it getting any better.
There are too many have beens, never weres and never will bes currently wearing the mustard and maroon.
Meanwhile, talent from the stable that was let go is looking great in other teams’ colours.
It must be enough to make the Broncos faithful want to vomit.
On only four other occasions has the club boasted one victory after four completed rounds of the competition: 2013, 2010, 2007 and 1999.
While they managed to scramble into the finals in 2007 and 1999, Brisbane were bundled out unceremoniously in the first week both times.
I suspect 2019 will join 2013 and 2010 as the only times in the NRL era that the Red Hill-based proprietary limited will not make the finals.
Last year I wrote that their recruitment had been pear-shaped since the retirement of the great Cyril Connell.
At the time, many people were keen to point out the developing talents of the likes of Jaydn Su’A, Joe Ofahengaue and Payne Haas as evidence that the talent development was still in great shape.
How many would still argue that line?
Last season, it seemed that Wayne Bennett was clearly past his peak and was being tipped out – going to the lesser Rabbitohs was almost a booby prize.
Anthony Seibold, conversely, was going to inject his young blood into the club and turn it around.
Who is laughing now? Uncle Wayne, that’s who.
And why wouldn’t he be? South Sydney – apart from their golden-point loss – have looked great so far. The Broncos have looked horrid.
While they are able to score some points – they are averaging 17.3 a match from their 3.3 tries – their defence has been execrable. They are the equal worst for run metres conceded, with 1600-plus a match. They are second worst for line breaks conceded, with 5.3 a match.
They are the worst in the NRL for missed tackles, with 32.3 a game. Kodi Nikorima has been doing an impressive Chris Sandow impression, missing an average of 5.3 a game. However, there are a whole host of his teammates also performing the role of turnstiles: Matt Lodge is missing 3.5 a game.
Tevita Pangai Jr (apparently a million-dollar player) is missing 3.3 a game, Anthony Milford and Jack Bird are missing three each, with Alex Glenn and Matt Gillett both over two.
This is the team of Shane Webcke, Corey Parker, Kevin Campion, Brad Thorn and Trevor Gillmeister. Hard men and hard defenders. When did that tradition end?
What must also drive fans nuts is the talent that is now doing well at other clubs.
I’d imagine that watching the likes of Josh McGuire, Jai Arrow, Jarrod Wallace, Ash Taylor and Dane Gagai right now would be awful.
The question is how to right the ship, especially when their draw this year is a tough one.
How can they do it? Rugby league is a simple game played and watched by simple people (accept it, I have), so the answers are also simple.
Fix the defence
The number one thing you need to do to win matches is to stop losing them. The Broncos must work on their defensive frailties and stop the missed tackles. The question is whether they can.
Too many forwards are missing lots of tackles. The partnership of Matt Gillett and Alex Glenn has always missed a few, but they had the likes of Corey Parker and Josh McGuire with them.
They don’t now. Right now their only rock-solid defender is Andrew McCullough. The rest of the pack needs to step up.
The attack must fire
But can this happen? Right now, Brisbane’s attack is held up to a mediocre standard because of Corey Oates – and Jamayne Isaako, to a lesser extent.
Anthony Milford came to Red Hill with big fanfare and promise in 2015.
He was 60 seconds from winning a premiership and possibly a Clive Churchill at the end of that season. However, since that point, he hasn’t exactly set the world on fire, managing just two games of note – and both were losses for Queensland.
If the Broncos are to get back on track, then Milford must start having a big, personal impact with the ball in hand. His two try assists, one line break assist, one line break and one try from four matches is not enough.
Nikorima may be a defensive liability but he has three try and line-break assists so far this year.
As well, Jack Bird and James Roberts must immediately find form and consistency, because Brisbane need these two at their attacking best. Darius Boyd also needs a renaissance to assist his side’s stuttering attack.
His new coach’s recent defence of the skipper – “Sometimes you swim in a pot of honey and sometimes you are swimming in a pool of shit” – is all at once bizarre, bewildering and emblematic of the malaise that is Boyd’s present paradigm.
Right now, if Alfie Langer’s hamstring goes, Brisbane are shot ducks.
Having these factors magically rectified is a long shot.
What the club really needs is a long-term fix.
The Broncos must overhaul their development system and list management. They have advantages that most sides can only dream of – they are a one-team town, have a massive feeder area with enormous junior numbers, a large and rusted-on membership base, and massive corporate support.
In regards to resources and support, Brisbane are the Manchester United of the NRL.
It amazes me that so much mediocrity in regards to results has been tolerated for so long.
Since winning the 2006 grand final, they have played in 20 finals matches, including three preliminary finals and one grand final.
That doesn’t sound too bad until you consider that’s an average of just 1.666 finals a year. Further, they’ve missed the finals twice and been knocked out in week one of the finals four times.
That’s ordinary, plain and simple, for a club of that stature.
Surely, with this poor start, the chickens are about to come home to roost at Red Hill.
Surely they are.
One thing is for sure though: every other team and their supporters will be fine if the Broncos maintain this mediocre status quo.