Rugby league identities have lined up to dissect Brisbane’s woes as the club comes under more pressure than ever in its 33-year history.
Channel 9 reports a nine-hour crisis meeting was held at Red Hill on Sunday after a diabolical 30-12 loss to perennial cellar-dwellers Gold Coast on Saturday, which leaves the Broncos second-last on the ladder, without a win since the season restarted after the coronavirus-enforced suspension.
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The Courier-Mail and Nine report Brisbane is launching an investigation into what’s gone wrong, with chairman Karl Morris turning to fellow board member and Broncos legend Darren Lockyer in search of answers.
Statistics on Sunday revealed Brisbane is off to its worst ever defensive start to a season, with its on-field discipline the poorest in the NRL. Sitting 15th after seven games is also the Broncos’ worst position this far into a season in 13 years, as they desperately seek to rebound from five straight losses.
Morris on Sunday gave Anthony Seibold assurances as coach, promising the club was in for the long haul with him — but there are plenty of reasons he is already feeling the heat. The Broncos’ 209 points conceded is the worst after seven rounds in the club’s 33-year existence — and 170 of those points have come in the past five games since the competition restart.
In that time they have scored just 42 points.
The pile-on from NRL greats keeps rolling on as Seibold, in the second year of a five-year, $3 million deal, finds himself in the firing line.
Roosters premiership winner Bryan Fletcher said on Fox Sports the Broncos’ line speed in defence, intensity and kick-chase were all awful against the Titans. “Their whole effort during the 80 minutes was the worst I’ve seen,” he said.
Newcastle great Matty Johns pinpointed a couple of areas that are hurting the club most. One of rugby league’s most respected analysts, Johns believes the introduction of the “six-again” rule for ruck infringements, which has sped the game up considerably, is proving to be a major issue because of the Broncos’ big forward pack.
“You can’t underestimate the change in the ruck, what it’s done,” Johns said on Sunday Night with Matty Johns.
“Some teams it hasn’t affected, some teams it’s improved. No team has been affected more than the Broncos.
“They’ve been found out with the way teams have looked at them and said, ‘They are a big pack, so I’ll tell you what we’re going to do, we’re just going to centralise our attack, inside balls’. It’s just killing them.”
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Johns believes Tom Dearden needs first crack in the No. 7 jersey.Source:Getty Images
Teenage halfback Tom Dearden has been touted as Brisbane’s long-term No. 7 but only played his first game of the season against the Titans, coming off the bench in the second half and inserted into hooker.
Brisbane halves Brodie Croft and Anthony Milford have been heavily criticised for their inability to drive the team out of its horror slump and Johns can’t believe Dearden has been consistently snubbed in 2020.
“Those first two rounds, football-wise with their halves, they relied on heavy structure,” Johns said. “It worked in the slower game but in the faster game, where you’ve got to play reactive football, they just can’t create.
“This is what I don’t get from the other night and where I think they’re losing their way is that they were talking about Tom Dearden being the future of the club.
“Now I was saying, ‘Where’s Tommy Dearden been?’ They finally put him on the bench. I thought he would start because they need someone to steer them around the park.
“They put him on the bench and with 20 minutes to go they finally bring him on and they play him at hooker.
“Every half has their strengths and when they took Brodie up there and said, ‘He is going to lead us round the park’ — he’s not that type of halfback.
“He (Croft) is a kid who is a good runner of the football and when he spots something he can take off.”
Asked what he would do if in Seibold’s shoes, Johns said: “The first thing is you have to put Dearden into No. 7 and see if he can make a difference.
“Apart from that, and we say this every week, I don’t know how they’re going to get out of it.”
Former NSW Origin hooker Michael Ennis was savage in his assessment of Brisbane, saying “the joint’s in disarray” and Seibold and the players are “completely without answers”.
He also questioned the club’s recruitment strategy, stocking up on youth and jettisoning experienced players like Josh McGuire and Andrew McCullough, only to bring in veterans mid-season like hooker Issac Luke and back-rower Ben Te’o, who are in the twilight of their careers.
“No one’s willing to make the hard decisions,” Ennis said on Fox’s The Big League Wrap. “Anthony Seibold, and to be honest other people at the club, are struggling to make tough decisions.
“They’ve got so much talent there … their form’s gone backwards, deteriorating rapidly.
“They just look lost.”
Fox Sports’ chief NRL reporter James Hooper predicted Seibold and the club would mutually agree to part ways at the end of the season if the Broncos can’t fix the mess they’re in.
“I’m stunned that we’re having these conversations but that’s where we’re at at the moment,” he said.
Anthony Milford is under scrutiny for his grim start to the year.Source:AAP
SEIBOLD ON THE DEFENSIVE AS LEGENDS LASH OUT
Joe Ofahengaue is facing three weeks out for a shoulder charge and his indiscretion is symptomatic of the Broncos’ season. They have been the most ill-disciplined team in the competition, conceding 7.7 penalties per game.
They have now had eight players charged over the opening seven rounds, including Corey Oates who faces a fine for abusing referee Peter Gough on Saturday night. That total of charges is the highest of any club in the NRL this year.
If Ofahengaue takes his early guilty plea it will mean Broncos players have already missed nine games this year through on-field bans. That figure does not include the two weeks Ofahengaue missed at the start of the season due to an off-field incident.
Broncos legend Gorden Tallis on Sunday claimed key young players like Payne Haas had “gone backwards” in 2020.
“The way they are playing, it doesn’t just seem like they are defending for each other,” Tallis told Triple M. “The team is separated.
“At some stage they’re not playing for each other. That’s the coach’s job, to get these guys as one unit.
“And at the moment, they’re not.”
Seibold on Saturday night stressed that he was not looking over his shoulder worrying about his job.
It came after he addressed the Broncos board on Friday to detail his plans for a recovery in what the Brisbane mentor dismissed as a regulation scheduled meeting.
He also reminded critics that his team recovered from a 2-5 start to last season to make the finals.
“I’m working as hard as I can. I’ll get up and go in the morning,” he said. “I think I’m the right person to try and bring this group through. “If the board thinks otherwise … then they’ll tell me.”
Anthony Seibold has rejected accusations he’s lost the dressing room.Source:Getty Images
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