2020 has not been the year of the Broncos. At this current stage, Brisbane are sitting in 15th place and looking down the barrel of a first wooden spoon.
To make matters worse, they have lost arguably their best player in David Fifita to the little brother down the M1, the Gold Coast Titans. As a Broncos fan, I was devastated when Fifita signed with the Titans and felt like there was no light on the horizon for the Bronxnation.
However, after reading the lift out in The Sunday Mail about the top 100 earners in the NRL, a small light started to flicker in the sky – right above Red Hill.
At the Brisbane Broncos, three players earn a combined $2.7 million a season. Anthony Milford ($1 million), Darius Boyd ($750,000) and Jack Bird ($975,000) have all been performing below average, or in Bird’s case, been injured.
With Darius Boyd retiring at season’s end and Anthony Milford and Jack Bird contracts running out at the end of 2021, the Brisbane Broncos have the opportunity to sign players that will not only play great but bring experience and an attitude shift.
First and foremost, the Broncos should throw the book at Luke Keary. Keary is a three-time premiership winner and was born in Ipswich.
He is currently on a bargain price of $700,000 until the end of 2021 and can easily ask for $1 million in his next contract.
Darren Lockyer and Co should be on the phone to Keary’s manager and offer $1 million plus per season. He brings experience, leadership and a great running game, which Brisbane sorely miss.
Keary would come at the expense of Milford who has not performed since 2018 and is half the player he was during the 2015 season.
Secondly, with Jack Bird looking more likely to return to Sydney in 2021 and players such as Jamayne Isaako and Tesi Nui not performing to there ability, Brisbane need a fullback.
They need a fullback who floats in the middle third of the field looking for offloads from the likes of Payne Haas and Tevita Pangai Jr.
The most underrated fullback in the competition now is St George’s Matt Dufty. Dufty can break the line, constantly supports his forwards and his ball-playing skills have increased dramatically since the NRL restarted.
Brisbane lack a ball playing fullback and Dufty would add so much to their attack. Matt Dufty’s contract at the Dragons expires at the end of 2021 and can look to ask for up to $800,000 in his next contract.
With roughly $1 million left up their sleeve, the Broncos can extend and upgrade current contracts of players. Pat Carrigan and Kotoni Staggs are both off contract at the end of 2021 and are smokeys for an Origin call up later this year.
If both make their debut in the next year, they’ll both be looking for contract upgrades.