The once-mighty Brisbane Broncos face huge decisions to make in 2020, with a young, inexperienced team desperately trying to get beyond the first week of the finals for the first time in three years.
The last two years have been roller-coaster rides for fans of the club. From 2018’s hope then fade under Wayne Bennett, followed by a coach swap and a struggle throughout 2019, before another finals loss, the demand for better is clear.
Anthony Seibold, despite making the finals last year, is among the coaches who will be under the most pressure in 2019, but as it stands, there is very little he can do with the team he is fielding.
The Broncos are in a spot where they need experience before they can hope to do any better. But they need experience of the consistent, making-other-players-better kind, rather than flashy brilliance.
They already have the flashy moments of brilliance in spades. Players like Anthony Milford, Jamayne Isaako, David Fifita, Payne Haas and Jake Turpin.
But the one thing they all have in common – even Milford – is that they haven’t had the right option playing alongside them in the last 12 months or longer to really flourish and ensure this ridiculously talented team are playing at their absolute peak.
And from an experience point of view, things aren’t really going to get any better with the medically-forced retirement of Matt Gillett.
While it won’t help in the second row, Blake Green is the man the Broncos should be chasing to make the most out of their 2020 campaign.
Chad Townsend was probably the first guy I had on the list, but the chance of him being released by the Sharks is lower than the chance the Gold Coast Titans will go into the 2020 season as premiership favourites.
That is not the case with Green, however, who is rumoured to be on the outer at the Warriors and has struggled for form since Shaun Johnson departed the joint at the end of the 2018 season.
That is because while Green is a great man to lead the side, telling everyone where they need to be and managing the kicking game, he isn’t the man who is going to produce the flashy brilliance that racks up enough points to win games of rugby league.
But all those factors that Green is so good at were lumped on Milford’s (or Darius Boyd’s) plate late last season, and neither are players who should be trying to run that element of the contest.
The most pressing issues the Broncos are having are finding someone to manage the team, and finding a way to keep Boyd out of the spine, if not the team.
Green does just that. He will make Milford better and allow him to play in the halves, which then allows Isaako to play at the back and for Turpin to apply the proper blowtorch to Andrew McCullough for the number nine spot.
When you go over Green’s track record, he has a way of making exceptional players better by simply hiding in the background and doing his job, whether that be at Melbourne, Manly or the Warriors across his last three stints.
He played a phenomenal part in the form of both Daly Cherry-Evans and Shaun Johnson in the last couple of years, and while there were other factors at play, it’ll be the same scenario at Brisbane – coming into a side who need to improve and finding a way to get it done.
The things Green does can’t really be explained in stats, but to watch him play, there is a clear sense of calmness in his decision making, and that then transfers to the rest of the team.
There is a reason why he was being talked about as a New South Wales Blues bolter in 2017 and 2018.
Of course, he is getting on in age, but Green is better than he showed in 2019 and still has plenty to offer in the right environment.
Mark it down that this isn’t a long-term solution for the Broncos, but rather something to tide them over until this explosive forward pack of theirs learns their role in the game, and how to do the right thing at both ends of the park week in and week out and until they can produce their own controlling half.
Thomas Dearden is just that man coming through the ranks of the club, but the job at hand for the men at Red Hill is just too enormous for a rookie to handle.
Instead, the 18-year-old should spend the year learning the best of Green and Milford, waiting in the wings for an injury replacement.
While there has been talk that Brisbane will chase Brodie Croft, that’s not a great idea either. Outside of the Melbourne system, he may not be the player he is, and it also sends the wrong message to Dearden by signing another youngster.
If Brisbane are serious about making something of the 2020 season and getting their youngsters developing correctly, someone of Green’s stature is a must.