Another pre-season and another round of season previews. Time flies but we go with the flow as the first installment of the season previews covers the Brisbane Broncos
The Broncos are the sort of team that can have a great run and surge towards a finals berth or struggle and falter, leaving their fans remarkably frustrated. Despite those inconsistencies, though, there’s a back-to-the-future era beginning at out Broncos headquarters.
Why is that you ask? Well, prodigal son and the club’s most successful coach in Wayne Bennett is back at the helm and looking to take Brisbane back to the glory that they saw under his last long, successful reign as coach of the club. Bennett is the perfect man to lead the side forward. He knows a good chunk of players at the club, he is known for promoting juniors if and when they are ready and he knows how to get the best out of players, all of whom are drawn to his coaching style.
Perhaps the big unknown in the Broncos line-up this year comes with the uncertainty over crucial positions within their spine. Ben Hunt and Andrew McCullough are mainstays at halfback and hooker respectively, having performed brilliantly in season 2014 but the five-eighth role and the fullback role continue to generate discussion and talk as this very article is published.
Before the injury to Darius Boyd, things were set in stone. They were set for a spine of Boyd at fullback, Milford at five-eighth, Hunt at halfback and McCullough at hooker.
Boyd’s injury causes some headaches, though, especially with the possibility that Milford might move back to fullback. Even if that is not the case and despite what Bennett has said – we all know he can say one thing and then do something completely different – the fullback role in particular is still wide open and up for grabs.
Whilst Jordan Kahu has the support of the coach for the time being, will be pull a rabbit of a hat and surprise us all with a selection out of left field like Englishman Greg Eden or young gun Kodi Nikorima? Both have enjoyed decent trial form to date and will make a case to have first crack at the vacant fullback role along with Kahu. Whoever is selected in the role will have a tough task ahead of them as they adapt to the Broncos first-grade system and to the ever-changing dynamics of the NRL.
Despite all that, though, the Broncos are a team that you would expect to see in the top 8. With a coach like Bennett, a half that came off a career-best year in Ben Hunt, a young, exciting half in Anthony Milford, a veteran centre in Justin Hodges and veteran forwards in Corey Parker and Sam Thaiday, the club have all the tools in place to mount a challenge. Couple that with some promising young kids coming through the ranks, all of whom are chomping at the bit to play first-grade, and the Broncos have themselves quite a formidable side.
Best Recruit: It should come as no surprise that our pick for the Broncos best recruit is Anthony Milford. Playing at both fullback and five-eighth for the Canberra Raiders in 2014, Milford single-handedly out-maneuvered defensive lines on his own with nifty feet and acceleration out of the blocks. Whilst he might be a new team, the expectation is on him to continue to perform to that degree and with a new club. With big, mobile forwards pounding the middle of the ruck and the fringes, he is the sort of player that can exploit a hole in the defence and create countless opportunities.
Most Promising Talent: This was an easy one, especially based on the way he performed last year in the NYC – hulking prop, Joe Ofahengaue. A man mountain of a kid and still growing and developing, Ofahengaue is a player that is going places and fast. Whilst coach Bennett has said that he might not play first-grade in 2015, that will not stop the talented forward from working hard, playing hard and putting his hand up for a spot should it arise. One of the best forwards in the entire NYC competition in 2014 – big, big metres and consistently – Ofahengaue is a player that excites many Broncos fans for the future.
2015 Gains: Adam Blair (Wests Tigers), Darius Boyd (Newcastle Knights), Greg Eden (Hull Kingston Rovers), Mitch Garbutt (Melbourne Storm) James Gavet (Wests Tigers), Anthony Milford (Canberra Raiders), Matt Parcell (Ipswich Jets) & Travis Waddell (Newcastle Knights).
Predicted Broncos line-up:
1. Jordan Kahu
2. Daniel Vidot
3. Jack Reed
4. Justin Hodges (C)
5. Dale Copley
6. Anthony Milford
7. Ben Hunt
8. Josh McGuire
9. Andrew McCullough
10. Adam Blair
11. Sam Thaiday
12. Matt Gillett
13. Corey Parker
14. Alex Glenn
15. James Gavet
16. Mitch Garbutt
17. Darren Nicholls