Forget the illusion that the retirement of Wayne Bennett may cause the Brisane Broncos to derail during NRL 2008. In what promises to still be a big year for the Queensland side, they have replaced several old heads with some astute buys that should plug the gaps nicely for their NRL campaign this year.
With experienced stars Karmichael Hunt and Darren Lockyer returning from long layoffs, fresh and ready to be unleashed and the acquisition of boom Panthers half Peter Wallace, Eels Hooker PJ Marsh and Panthers big man Joel Clinton coach Wayne Bennett has an array of options at most positions. Add into the mix the fact that Broncos players will want to send Uncle Benny out on a winner and the likelihood they will have a less demanding player involvement in the Origin series, look for the Broncos to be a real threat in NRL season 2008.
The Broncos will employ one of the premierships most lethal hooking duos in 2008, with former Eels rake PJ Marsh returning to the Sunshine State to share the dummy half role with incumbent hooker, Michael Ennis. With attacking dynamos Justin Hodges and Karmichael Hunt feeding off creative halves Darren Lockyer and Peter Wallace, the Broncos will be one of the most dangerous attacking units in the competition.
Despite losing the experience of Civoniceva, Thorn, Berrigan and Carlaw up front, the Broncos have lost nothing in power, with Joel Clinton, Ashton Sims, Sam Thaiday and Corey Parker set to provide the muscle in the engine room.
Rookie flankers Darius Boyd and Steve Michaels should get first shot at the two starting wing positions for the Broncos Round One match against the Panthers, but will be under immense pressure to perform with the likes of Denan Kemp, Tom Hewitt and new boy Rodney Davies waiting in the wings.
Gone are the days where the Broncos utilised powerful wingers like Wendall Sailor and Lote Tuquiri as extra forwards, with the diminutive Brisbane wingers of last season often targeted under the high ball. If the successful aerial assaults continue, than both Boyd and Michaels will be playing alot of Queensland Cup this season.
Looking at the possible starting squad below for the Brisbane Broncos, their halves combination immediately looks like a match winning duo. The likes of Lockyer and Wallace working their wonders behind that pack of forwards will be a sight to behold.
Broncos possible 2008 starting squad:
1- Karmichael Hunt
2- Darius Boyd
3- Justin Hodges
4- David Stagg
5- Steve Michaels
6- Darren Lockyer
7- Peter Wallace
8- Joel Clinton
9- Michael Ennis
10- Dave Taylor
11- Corey Parker
12- Sam Thaiday
13- Tonie Carroll
14- Ben Hannant
15- Ashton Sims
16- PJ Marsh
17 â€“ Nick Kenny
16/2/08 v North QLD Cowboys @ Browne Park, Rockhampton
23/2/08 v Canberra Raiders @ Wade Park, Orange
01/03/08 v Melbourne Storm @ Dolphin Park, Redcliffe
2008 Gains and Losses-
Gains â€“ Joel Clinton and Peter Wallace (Penrith), Ashton Sims and Tom Hewitt (St George-Illawarra), PJ Marsh (Parramatta)
Losses â€“ Petero Civoniceva (Penrith), Shaun Berrigan (Hull), Brent Tate (New Zealand), Dane Carlaw (Les Catalans), Brad Thorn (Super 14 â€“ Canterbury), Ian Lacey and John Te Reo (sacked), Andrew Lomu (released)