On Friday night the Brisbane Broncos were beaten 28-16 by the Gold Coast Titans, a difference of two converted tries.
Coincidentally ex-Bronco David Fifita scored two tries that were converted against his old side.
Had Fafita not been poached to play for the Titans and was instead still plying his trade in Brisbane, the Broncos would have won by 12 points – those two converted tries.
The captaincy was taken off Darius Boyd his final season in 2020 so he could end his career without the distractions of leadership – essentially his form had slumped and he was past his best. His salary in his final seasons in the NRL was reportedly in the ballpark of Fifita’s retainer at the Gold Coast.
Boyd played one year too many. He was on good coin, and had he been selfless, he would have done the honourable thing and hung the boots up earlier, freeing up enough money under the cap for the Broncos to re-sign Fifita.
On Friday night the Broncos were missing their first-picked front-rowers. Matt Lodge has a hamstring injury and could not manage long minutes against Parramatta in Round 1, while Payne Haas was suspended for three matches following a disgraceful display of antisocial behaviour with police during the preseason.
Should Brisbane have made a play for Fifita and dumped Boyd? Yes. If they still had Fifita on the books, it would have undoubtedly resulted in a win for the Broncos at the weekend. They now dealing with the consequences of poor management, including Anthony Seibold’s lasting influence.
As has been much noted in the post-game press conference, Kevin Walters couldn’t even bring himself to acknowledge Fifita had played against his old side, never mind been decisive in the result.
Tevita Pangai Jr was best for the Broncos, but a special mention must go to Jake Turpin. He is bigger this year and gives great dummy-half service as well as super defence, getting himself in front of and around the legs of the opposition.
The Titans were clearly better. The scoreboard reflected that. But it would have been a different game if the Titans had not been able to poach Fifita. It’s worth noting the Titans also fielded two former Broncos in Jarrod Wallace and Ash Taylor.
Further, it has been publicly expressed the Titans intend to raid the Broncos ranks with targeted recruitment of Kotoni Staggs, Xavier Coates and young gun Brendan Piakura.
There are more pieces to the puzzle than two rounds, but the top eight would be a magic moment for the Brisbane Broncos after what we’ve seen. There are too many good teams that can crush inexperienced sides.
I predict Brisbane will win a few games with some flair this year, but they will finish outside the top eight – but then any advancement will be an improvement after the 2020 wooden spoon.