Xavier Coates has become the latest NRL player to knock back an offer to stay at Brisbane, signing a two-year deal with Melbourne.
After his side were relegated from the English Premier League in 2011, Blackpool manager Ian Holloway uttered, “The fat lady has sung and I don’t like the tune.”
Sadly, in 2021, as a Brisbane Broncos fan, you can say something similar, along the lines of: “The team is playing and I don’t like the picture.”
To watch each week at the moment is in its own way gut wrenching. To see a club whose performance was always based around a degree of solid effort and resilience morph into a side where the smell of negativity blows onto the field and they essentially all fall down is heartbreaking.
To have observed champions in the jumper give the best of themselves and achieve success, only to now watch a bunch of youngsters act like witches hats on occasion breaks a proud supporter’s heart.
As you can tell, the Brisbane Broncos are tough to watch.
The urge is always to ask: well, what are they doing? Whose fault is this?
Change the coach, sack the board and send the recruiter and all his staff on their way.
The truth is, this situation is the result of a club who simply have made bad choices at key times and as a result are now propping up a ladder that they thought they would be at the top of.
To re-sign the amount of forwards on the dollars they are currently receiving has turned into a mistake.
I am sure at the time they viewed most of these forwards as essential and the members of the team who would drive the glory charge.
Sadly, the rules changed. Many of the forwards Brisbane re-signed have been exposed by the quicker speed and more agile movement of their opponents.
The value paid to some of these forwards has also proven to be a poor choice.
It is fair to have the opinion that paying full price for forwards like Matt Lodge cost them signatures like that of the barnstorming David Fifita. But the misinformed and poor recruiting decisions only started there.
To watch Brisbane be lapped by Parramatta on Friday was just plain exhausting.
The low point of the weekend, though, was to follow.
You tune into football on Anzac Day and see the starting hooker for the Tigers show his potential and realise he was a Broncos junior.
Then you watch maybe the best young half of his generation turn it on for the Roosters and realise he was a Broncos junior.
Finally, while Melbourne were busy chalking a run-of-the-mill Anzac Day win, a young fullback was showing genuine superstar signs while making his debut for the Warriors. Again – you can probably guess where this is going – you realise he was a Broncos junior.
To observe what may have been a great spine run around in other teams’ jerseys is truly sickening.
The fact that Sam Walker and Reece Walsh could not be recognised as possibly generational talents and placed on long-term contracts by the club is a mistake greater than that of missing a future immortal.
The worst is probably yet to come.
Tom Dearden will walk off into the sunset, Xavier Coates will set sail too, most likely, and Kotoni Staggs, well, who would blame him for wanting to leave as well?
Meanwhile, the recruitment and retention committee keep making decisions and offering contracts to what’s left of what may have been a champion side.
While recruitment and retention, or lack thereof, have played a significant part, there are other decisions that have influenced this decline.
The past two coaching appointments made by the club have been comical.
On both occasions, a genuine process to find the best coach available has not been undertaken.
On the first occasion, the board simply appointed the shiniest thing in the shop window. Not surprisingly, when they took the object home, it didn’t operate or look as appealing as it had in that shop window.
On the second occasion, at least there was a two-horse race.
Whether they picked the right man the second time ’round is to be debated down the line, but to turn down a premiership-winning coach in favour of the guy who won the popularity contest held by the ex-players of the club is also slightly worrying.
Meanwhile, every week you tune in to watch, hoping, rather than expecting them to play well.
To see them win one game, sadly, now will be a joy.
When they again win two or three games in a row, it will be time to celebrate and maybe even start to dream of rosier times again.
Sadly, though, the current tune is still playing and I so hope it will change soon…