To put it mildly, 2020 has been a disappointing year, and not the least for the Brisbane Broncos.
The premier Queensland team have quite rightfully been lambasted for their woefully disappointing season.
However, while watching last Sunday’s game between the Dragons and the Knights, it occurred to me that St George Illawarra could possibly challenge the Broncos in terms of disappointment. It struck me while watching the Dragons miss tackles just how many good players the Dragons have but seem ineffectual in the Red V.
Judging how disappointing a team has been is always a bit subjective, but ultimately it stems from expectation, and a key driver of expectation is the perceived quality of players. One of the easiest ways to assess player quality is rep history, so I thought a brief comparison of the Broncos’ and Dragons’ rep players could help decide who has been more disappointing this year.
Historically the Brisbane Broncos have had an unusually high percentage of rep players. To an extent, this trend continues. Of Brisbane’s current squad, at least six players represented either their state or a top-five nation last year.
They include David Fifita (Queensland), Payne Haas (Australia, NSW), Corey Oates (Queensland), Joe Ofahengaue (Queensland), Tevita Pangai Jr (Tonga) and Kotoni Staggs (Tonga).
Having this number of recent rep players in the Broncos’ squad adds to the disappointment that has been their 2020 season. However, if we use recent representative history as a metric for disappointment, St George Illawarra certainly give Brisbane a run for their money.
Of the current Dragons squad, nine represented their state or nation in 2019, three more than the Broncos. They are Tyson Frizell (Australia, NSW), Ben Hunt (Australia, Queensland), Joe Lovodua (Fiji), Corey Norman (Queensland), Mikaele Ravalawa (Fiji), Korbin Sims (Fiji), Tariq Sims (NSW), Paul Vaughan (Australia, NSW) and Brayden Wiliame (Fiji).
But more interestingly, among these nine rep players, St George Illawarra have three recent Australian players and five recent State of Origin players. Brisbane have only one and four respectively.
Also, while Brisbane may lament the absence of quality and experienced halves, the Dragons’ playmakers Ben Hunt and Corey Norman both represented their state last year.
Brisbane have been a huge disappointment, but this is nothing if not well documented. However, considering their stock of rep players, more could be made of the poor results accrued by the Dragons this season. Much attention was put on the club earlier this year due to their troubles with coach Paul McGregor. But regardless of their coaching troubles, they have a roster that in another team might ensure a top-eight finish.
Of course, when assessing overall disappointment, factors such as previous results, facilities and club power also play a part. On these metrics Brisbane ranks far higher than St George Illawarra, and can rightfully be crowned the most disappointing team of 2020.
However, with the players available to the Dragons, their efforts in 2020 are almost as disappointing. Six wins in 19 games with the Storm left to play is grim reading for a team of their theoretical talent.