This is the 22nd article in the ongoing series where we remember some of the forgotten players from your favourite club. Today, the Brisbane Broncos.
The Broncos joined the big time in 1988 and have had more than their fair share of success, winning six premierships and four minor premierships, both including the 1997 Super League competition. A total of 259 players have now turned out in first grade for the club, including these legends who have all played more than 250 games for the club – Darren Lockyer, Corey Parker, Sam Thaiday, Michael Hancock, Alex Glenn, Andrew McCullough, Allan Langer, Andrew Gee and Shane Webcke.
At the other end of the scale, however, a remarkable 60 players turned out on five or fewer occasions for the Broncos.
Here’s a team primarily made up of players who even the most loyal Broncos fan may have forgotten.
1. Steve Irwin
Famously named, Irwin was a former Australian schoolboy representative who made his first-grade debut for the Broncos in 2002, but was only selected for a total of four first-grade games over the next three seasons. He then moved to the Raiders without much success, and his first-grade aspirations ended when he was controversially sacked by Canberra after his involvement with Todd Carney in a high-speed police pursuit. Crikey!
2. Pat Savage
Hailing from North Queensland, Savage played 14 first-grade games across the 1992 to 1994 seasons but couldn’t establish himself as a regular in the top grade. He also five top-level games for the Chargers in 1996.
3. Danny Bampton
Bampton was a prodigious talent when called into first grade by the Broncos at the age of 18 in 1998, and big things were predicted for him. However, like many young players, untimely injuries played their part, and his first-grade career was restricted to just ten games over the next three seasons.
4. Mitch Rivett
Rivett came from Redcliffe to make his debut with the Broncos in 2010, but his first-grade career was limited to just two games in that season.
5. Scott Minto
The enigmatic “Peoples’ Immortal”, Minto was called to first-grade with the Broncos in 2002 and went on to play 39 games at the club over the next five years. A tough and hard-working player and unfortunate Wayne Bennett lookalike, he then headed to the Cowboys in 2007 and played 14 games for the club that year before injury brought his career to a close.
6. Berrick Barnes
Barnes grew up in Bjelke-Peterson country and was selected in first-grade by the Broncos at the age of 18 in 2005. He was then pursued and signed by the QLD Reds in 2006 and had been playing rugby up until his retirement earlier this year, including 51 matches for Australia. Definitely one that got away from the Broncos.
7. Craig Grauf
Grauf was a star in the Brisbane competition before joining the Broncos for their inaugural season in 1988. He was competing with Allan Langer for a regular first-grade spot and as a result, he was only selected in the top grade five times that season. He eventually returned to the Brisbane competition before briefly resurrecting his first-grade career with six games for Gold Coast in 1996.
8. Bryan Niebling
Niebling already had nine games for QLD and 13 for Australia under his belt when he joined the Broncos from Redcliffe in 1988, playing 20 games for the club over the next two seasons. He then finished his top-level career in England.
9. Ian Lacey
Lacey made his first-grade debut for the Broncos in 2006 and played 23 games for the club over the next two years before being sacked in 2007 following assault charges and later conviction. He then finished his career in the Queensland Cup competition.
10. Harvey Howard
Englishman Harvey Howard was a real journeyman and played for eight clubs in his 13-year career, as well as six Tests for England and one for Great Britain. He joined the Broncos in 2000 at the age of 32 and won a premiership for his trouble before returning to England the following season.
11. Brett Le Man
A former Australian Schoolboys representative, Le Man came from the Brisbane competition to join the Broncos in their inaugural season in 1988 and played 38 first-grade games for the club over the next four years. He has the honor of scoring the Broncos’ first-ever try off a Craig Grauf bomb.
12. Russell Bawden
Bawden liked to party, and his career accordingly took a little time to gather momentum after making his first-grade debut for the Broncos in 1994, playing just two games for the club that year. Coach Wayne Bennett then “encouraged” him to head to the London Broncos for a couple of seasons to see if that would settle him down, unfortunately without much success.
But he then he hit the ground running when he joined the Storm for their inaugural season in 1998, going on to play 101 games for the club and three Origins for QLD.
13. Dennis Scott
Hailing from North QLD, Scott made first-grade with the Broncos in 1996 but just played six games at the top level over the next three years. He then moved to the Bulldogs where he had greater success over the next four seasons before ending his top-level career with the Storm in 2005 following persistent injuries.
14. Matt Parcell
A talented hooker, Parcell came from the Ipswich Jets to join the Broncos in 2015 and played six games for the club that year before moving to Manly, and later the UK where he continues to play today.
15. Darren Mapp
A big front-rower from Albury, Mapp has had two stays with the Broncos. First, after making his first-grade debut for Brisbane in 2000, he played three games for the club before heading to the Raiders for a couple of years. He then returned to the Broncos for three seasons from 2003, playing another 35 games, before then moving on to the Sharks.
16. Palmer Wapau
A big unit, Wapau had the size, skill and talent to make an impact in the NRL, however, his first-grade career was limited to just five games for the Broncos in 2009.
17. Nick Slyney
Slyney was a versatile and hard-working forward who made his first-grade debut for the Cowboys in 2008 but only played five games for the club in the top grade over the next three years. His next top-grade opportunity came with the Broncos in 2012, where he played six games for the club over the next two seasons, before heading to the UK to finish his career in the top grade.