Published on theroar.com.au 14/3/13
Legendary coach Wayne Bennett knew the writing was on the wall for the Brisbane Broncos when he left at the end of 2008. The salary cap had finally caught up with the mighty franchise.
It was the end of an era and Bennett knew it. The Broncos were coming back to the pack and it was time for the super coach to exit stage left. The challenges at a new club far outweighed staying in Queensland.
Broncos’ fans still expect excellence from their side. But it is a tad harder when you cannot field international players right across the paddock. The fear factor is long gone for sides headed to Suncorp Stadium.
That menacing unspoken arrogance of former Broncos sides will never be seen again.
The people of Brisbane have seen six premiership victories since the club’s inception in 1988. Future premierships, like every club, will be few and far between. It is simply the nature of the National Rugby League.
Last Friday night at Suncorp, the Broncos wilted to a committed Manly Sea Eagles side.
Everything seemed rosy after the first half with the home side leading by eight points. Brisbane was on their way to what looked like the first of many wins in 2013. But the second stanza saw a different Broncos side trot back out onto the paddock.
Their forwards were smashed, their outside backs lacked execution and their halves failed to fire.
This isn’t Scott Prince’s fault by the way. The playmaker has plenty of detractors and you can argue that he isn’t the player he was once was. But the man still has a role to play in a young side lacking direction.
Coach Anthony Griffin’s decision to shift Corey Norman to fullback and Josh Hoffman to the flank failed. It could still work and the Broncos will be fine.
It isn’t the first time the Broncos have made positional changes and come out the other side.
Darren Lockyer was moved to five-eighth in 2004 to make way for boom rookie Karmichael Hunt. Lockyer quickly became one of the great five-eights and Hunt shot to superstardom.
When the club won the 2006 title, Justin Hodges was moved to fullback late in the year with Hunt shifted to the wing. The Broncos defeated the Melbourne Storm in the decider.
But the problem is clearly not the halves, not just yet anyway.
Manly’s pack dominated and laid the platform for the likes of Daly Cherry-Evans and Kieran Foran. How can Prince or Peter Wallace do their job when the forwards aren’t doing theirs?
Veteran prop Brent Kite turned back the clock in a stellar performance. The Broncos had no answers in the middle third and made the likes of Brenton Lawrence and Richie Fa’aoso look like Glenn Lazarus and Paul Harragon.
“Us forwards were all right in patches but we lacked a bit of hunger and aggression at times when we needed it,” Brisbane prop Josh McGuire told The Courier-Mail.
“In round two we need to play as a pack not individuals.
“We need to play as a group instead of one out.
“We went into round one without the right mentality and Manly dusted us.”
The Broncos will now head to Wollongong to tackle the St George Illawarra Dragons. If Brisbane wants to be taken seriously in 2013, they will put the Dragons to the sword.
Easier said than done.