Over the years I have watched the Brisbane Broncos maintain ascendancy in the NRL and the former ARL.
In years of late there has been a decline in the performance of the great club and as a die-hard Broncos fan, I would like to rant on this.
There are many reasons for the Broncos’ success over the years. From my observations, the two most important factors have been Wayne Bennett and the Broncos’ key players.
The Broncos are not faring well in the post-Wayne Bennett era. Since their inclusion into the NSWRL in 1988, Bennett’s success and record speaks for itself. Five premierships with the Broncos under six different captains over a span of 21 years.
In those 21 years, the Broncos qualified for finals appearances 19 times; missing out only twice in 1988, their first year, and 1991 by just one place.
When Wayne Bennett left to join the St George Illawara Dragons in 2009, the Broncos failed to reach the finals after two decades of finals appearances under the new coach Ivan Henjak in 2010, and then again under Anthony Griffin in 2013.
In 2015 Wayne Bennett returned to his Broncos and they finally make it to the NRL grand final after a nine-year drought. The Brisbane Broncos lost to the North Queensland Cowboys 17-16 in extra time of that game.
It was a classic grand final and the Broncos led throughout most of the game, playing with class and control like we have come to expect from Bennett’s Broncos. However, the rugby league gods had already destined a victory for the future Immortal on the other team. The King in the North – Johnathan Thurston.
Wayne Bennett has always been a large part of the Brisbane Broncos’ success. Finding a replacement will remain a daunting task if the Broncos are to return to their former glory.
The second major factor that kept the Broncos the envy of most teams has been the many gifted players that have graced their ranks.
Wally Lewis, Gene Miles, Allan Langer, Kevin Walters, Gorden Tallis, Darren Lockyer, Sam Thaiday, Corey Parker and Justin Hodges have been the former captains who have led the great Brisabe Broncos teams of yesteryear. Many other great players played under these captains.
Of these captains, three stand out as the greatest of Brisbane’s generals: Lewis, Langer and Lockyer. The key playmakers. All captains of the Queensland Maroons and the Australian Kangaroos.
One thing common about these men were they were the best Queensland playmakers of their respective eras. That I believe is the key ingredient the current Broncos team lacks. The Broncos’ key playmaker has always been the Queensland key playmaker. Of the current crop of Queensland players, the best halves at present are Daly Cherry-Evans, Cameron Munster and Michael Morgan.
I believe the Broncos need to buy one of these players if they are to return to being a top team. The Broncos are the soul of the Queensland Maroons team. Their culture has always been based on that of the Maroons team and after Lockyer retired, Thurston, Smith and Cronk took over the reins of leading the Maroons. Brisbane was left with the leftovers and this has directly affected them.
I would suggest that the Broncos release Milford and purchase Cherry-Evans, Munster or Morgan.
To partner the key playmaker, another suggestion is for the Broncos to recruit one of the three young playmakers Lachlan Lewis, Lachlan Lam or Kyle Laybutt to play alongside and eventually take over. For some reason, the former great generals of the Broncos had names starting with L.
It must be something to do with the legend of Lang Park. These three young players are in the shadows of other teams but may come into their own under the great Broncos jersey.
I would also like to see the Broncos recruit some quality Queensland players playing in NRL clubs like Kalyn Ponga, Ethan Lowe, Josh Papali and Jai Arrow. Broncos need to structure a team around the Maroons team of today.
Finally in regards to the coach of the Broncos. Why not give the job to Lockyer? Has there ever been a better rugby league brain to come out of Queensland after Bennett and Lewis than Darren Lockyer?
The Broncos needs someone who can guide and grow the players and the team for the next 20 years. Someone whose passion equals Bennett’s and whose heart and soul is the Broncos. I do believe the most capped and successful Broncos captain will eventually become their greatest coach.
The best of the Broncos is yet to come.