The Roar
The Roar



Awakening the sleeping giant: Why the Broncos coming last is bad news for every other NRL team

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24th August, 2020
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There are so many rugby league supporters out there stupidly taking great joy in the current plight of the Brisbane Broncos.

Every week, hordes of people are tuning in to Canterbury Bankstown Bulldogs games, willing the Belmore Boys to get another win that will send the Broncos into the wooden spoon position.

Make no mistake, the 2020 Broncos are already at the bottom of their barrel. In their 33-year history, the worst finish the Broncos have ever had was 12th in 2013.

It was one of only two occasions that they haven’t placed at least eighth or higher. If they win all their remaining five games – incredibly unlikely given those five games are against the Roosters, Panthers, Titans, Eels, and Cowboys – they will still finish with just eight wins for the season, two fewer than their worst ever return in 2013. Their average score for this season is a 14-31 loss.

That is their average worst score – both for and against – ever. And with that run home you can bet it will get lots worse.

However, this season of horror for the Mustard and Maroon is about to bring the era of Bronco mediocrity to a grinding halt.


This abject failure will almost certainly usher in an era of success that will make all the other teams and their supporters yearn for the seasons when an elimination final berth was enough to paper over the yawning organisational cracks at Red Hill, rather than having them meaningfully addressed and fixed.

Following the bombing of the US Fleet in Pearl Harbour in 1941, Japanese Admiral Isoroku Yamamoto is attributed as stating (possibly apocryphally), “I fear all we have done is to awaken a sleeping giant and fill him with a terrible resolve.”

Sure enough, that provocation was the catalyst that saw the United States war machine driven to greater and deadlier lengths than ever before imagined.

The massive resources and manpower of the nation were harnessed to push a total war effort that swept aside two very formidable adversaries, across two vastly different fields, in just over three years.

This appalling season is the Broncos’ Pearl Harbour. It is their wake-up call. Just imagine how dominant the Broncos will be when they properly harness all their financial strength and actually capitalise on their unparalleled breeding ground of players.

Payne Haas

Payne Haas. (Photo by Mark Metcalfe/Getty Images)

The Brisbane Broncos LTD is a company that is necessarily all about making money for the shareholders and being successful on the field is essential for that. They are a company that has tolerated mediocrity for far too long.

While the results on the field are worse than ever, the real bottom line is money. COVID-19 is certain to have played a big part in the Brisbane Broncos LTD one year Sales Change of minus 25.42 per cent. However, their on-field performance is unlikely to be selling associated products in the type of numbers expected – nay demanded – by the shareholders. Nor to get the required viewing numbers.


The poor results were always going to put pressure on Seibold first and foremost. I saw his inevitable removal this year directly after their 34-6 flogging at the hands of the Eels back in May.

I copped a fair bit for making that call then.

Now Seibold’s departure is just a matter of when, not if.

However, anyone who really thinks Seibold is to blame for this situation and that the ship will suddenly right itself when he goes is fooling themselves. I have seen this coming for years now.

Yvonne Sampson asked Cooper Cronk his view in regard to the talk of removing Seibold, “When does it become a business decision, rather than pride or trying to do the right thing?”

Cronk replied, “When your share price drops dramatically that becomes a business decision. When you work out how much it is going to cost you to pay out a coach – if that’s the decision they make – that’s when it becomes a business decision.”


It sure is a business decision and that business decision is highly unlikely to only go as far as removing the coach.

My bet is that there will be quite a few in the Brisbane Broncos LTD boardroom and at the Red Hill HQ hoping that the departure of coach Anthony Seibold might provide enough of a scapegoat to divert attention from their own perceived role in this deep malaise.

Anthony Seibold

Anthony Seibold. (Chris Hyde/Getty Images)

However, I’d be surprised if more than a few escape scrutiny when the major shareholder has the ruler forensically run over every department. And that is positively going to happen.

I’d be surprised if there isn’t a very big clean out throughout the whole organisation that will see many incumbents removed and replaced with people who will ruthlessly and single mindedly take the organisation back to the very top.

Personally, I’d start by putting in place a premium elite player development production line that will make Cyril Connell’s legendary role look Mickey Mouse in comparison.

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We already know that Chief Executive Officer Paul White is leaving at year’s end. The question now is how many others – in the organisation and on the board – will go with him and who will replace them?

Once that happens – and if good appointments are made – it will be a very short time until all non-Broncos fans will be yearning for the halcyon days of 2020 when they could actually ridicule the team.

So laugh it up while you can people. This is probably the beginning of the end.

I’m quaking in my boots and you should be too.