The Sunday Mail (Queensland)

It’s still a long road

Signs of life at battling Broncos but a recruitmen­t overhaul is badly needed at Red Hill

- WITH MAROONS LEGEND GORDEN TALLIS

THE Brisbane Broncos are improving under Kevin Walters but the club will not become an NRL premiershi­p force again until it overhauls its failing recruitmen­t process. The Broncos have a 1-4 record after the e opening month of the 2021 season and have been criticised for their performanc­es.

But this is a club that endured a horrendous 2020, collected the wooden spoon and started this season without their two best players – Payne Haas and Kotoni Staggs.

After five rounds it has become clear where the Broncos have improved and where there is work to be done.

THE 80-MINUTE BATTLE

THE Broncos conceded an average of 31 points a game during the disaster of 2020 when they were smashed most weeks.

This year they are currently conceding an average of 25 points per week, a noticeable improvemen­t despite a couple of tough games recently.

You can only judge yourself against the best sides and the Broncos should have beaten Parramatta in Round 1 while they have been competitiv­e with the Storm and Rabbitohs in patches.

They ripped in against South Sydney for 30 minutes, but there is still 50 minutes in games where they are not competing as hard as they should be.

They have young talent but that isn’t an excuse. If Brisbane gets more jerseys in the picture then they will be thereabout­s when it matters.

The return of Haas from suspension and Matt Lodge from injury has been a positive for the Broncos and you can see the team is getting better in moments but not consistent­ly enough over 80 minutes.

The sides people think are lucky are the ones that make their own luck by competing.

THE T HALVES DILEMMA

D take control of the

THE Broncos need a dominant playmaker to team. t

They are relying on 1 185-game five-eighth Anthony Milford (right) to be that player but it is clear he isn’t up to it.

At 20 years old and after only 20 NRL games, halfback Tom Dearden (left) can’t be expected to be that player.

He simply isn’t experience­d enough to take ownership and that should be the job of a player with at least 100 games of NRL experience.

The Broncos need to find a dominant half and voice on the field.

Out of the halves and hooker Jake

Turpin, it is hard to know who the boss is out there. With the speed of the game this year, a player that is quick between their ears is crucial. They need to be able to think on the run.

Whether the Broncos have that player in their squad, or they need to recruit one, is for the brains trust at the club to decide.

THE RECRUITMEN­T GAME

IT IS not hard to see that Brisbane’s recruitmen­t process is not working.

The Broncos have made some poor decisions in roster management and that is hard to overcome.

Kevvie knows what a good footy player looks like. He has coached at successful clubs like Melbourne and Brisbane and been in control of the Queensland State of Origin team.

He knows what good players bring to a team and who will suit the style of football he wants the Broncos to play. When the new CEO Dave Donaghy gets his feet under the desk next month he will have to hit the ground running and set the direction of the club. They have lost a promising young player in Reece Walsh to the Warriors and the likes of Xavier Coates, Dearden and Staggs remain unsigned.

They have to change their recruitmen­t policies and strategies because it’s not working.

THE COACH

IT IS clear the attitudes of the Broncos have improved under Kevvie and their performanc­es are getting better.

All the effort isn’t being rewarded on the scoreboard and it’s easy to drop your bundle when that happens.

It’s difficult to see the positives when you’re not winning and young players can stew on their mistakes during a game rather than having an experience­d head getting them back on track.

In Round 1 against Parramatta, before the playing group’s confidence took a hammering, you could see the style of footy they want to play and Kevvie’s impact.

They were moving the ball out of their own end playing an attractive brand. It was the Broncos of old for a brief period.

When they’re fresh and fit and have the same amount of ball as the opposition I can see what Kevvie is trying to achieve.

It’s a great style of footy to watch and will be successful, but they haven’t been able to do it for 80 minutes. That’s what they’re learning to do.

We need to remember it’s only a month into the competitio­n and the Broncos have a long road ahead of them before Brisbane is once again what be.

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