The new look Brisbane Broncos forward pack will be under more pressure than ever as they try to create a successful new engine room at the club that has lost several familiar faces there in recent times.As new club signings Ben Hannant, Sam Thaiday and Corey Parker all speak of stepping up to take up the slack, after Petero Civoniceva has left Brisbane along with the likes of Dane Carlaw, Brad Thorn and only a season before; Shane Webcke.
The talk has been around new guys Joel Clinton and Ashton Sims wanting to stamp their authority too and put themselves in the best position to take over the reigns permanently.
With the NRL 2008 season only days from kick-off, now it’s showtime.
The Broncos forwards will be acid tested by the guys who only last year led them around the Rugby League field – Petero Civoniceva.
For each Broncos supporter and anyone who has ever been involved with the club, it will be an unusual experience to see big Petero run out for the Penrith Panthers this weekend.
Rarely has a Brisbane Bronco player worn the jersey with more pride and there is no doubting the impressive prop will be wanting to get some revenge on the club that didn’t show him enough respect.
Partnering him will be the Puletua gang, Frank and Tony, plus that other giant NZ rep Frank Pritchard.
All big, all tough and sure to be encouraged by the likes of Petero by their side; they are really going to give the new Broncos forward pack an early test and a good guide as to how they will perform this season without their experienced former stars.
There is no doubting, that the Broncos, having Darren Lockyer back in charge, Justin Hodges freed to perform his usual duties andÂ a fresh Karmichael Hunt, have the nucleus of a powerhouse side that should realistically not only make the finals and but achieve a top 4 finish.
It’s been said before, but it can only happen if the forwards lay that all important platform and the new men have big shoes to fill, lets not forget the fact that a specialist hooker PJ Marsh also comes into the new pack and should provide good gel amongst the group.
What’s critical is the early rounds of this years NRL as Lockyer starts to get his timing and confidence back, as he returns from a long layoff.
I have kept an eye on his comeback from knee surgery and no one that I have seen, has been more committed or professional in their road back.
Looking sharp at training for sure, but the skipper needs a chance to get his timing back. A failing forward pack with little go-forward will create nightmares for Lockyer as he returns.
I expect coach Wayne Bennett to have explained all this to the new forwards in particular to ensure the path of Lockyer and that of the Broncos is laid out correctly for this season.
This it, no time to shy away from the collisions. The Broncos forwards must work in numbers and throw themselves into the heat of battle without fear.
If this can happen, Darren Lockyer and the classy outside backs at Brisbane will have the ideal chance to forge a winning start in what shapes to be a new era at the club that has achieved so much in such a short time in the NRL.