Reject Broncos now on the edge of glory
JAYDN SU’A was heartbroken. Dane Gagai calls it a blessing. Jai Arrow remembers the moment like it was yesterday.
These are the South Sydney Broncos – Brisbane’s rugby league rejects who are now on the cusp of NRL premiership glory.
The Rabbitohs will field four former Broncos players (including Benji Marshall) in Sunday’s grand final against Penrith at Suncorp Stadium, while coach Wayne Bennett masterminded all six of Brisbane’s premierships.
SU’A, 23, was one of Brisbane’s brightest back-row prospects before he was shown the door by the Broncos midway through 2019.
Now a Queensland Origin player, SU’A was told he had no future at Red Hill under former coach Anthony Seibold and sought a lifeline with Bennett at Redfern.
“I was heartbroken,” SU’A said of his axing. “No one likes hearing they’re not wanted. Everyone knows Wayne and I have a good relationship. He gave me a call one night. Next thing I knew I was putting on a South Sydney jersey.”
For Gagai, his Broncos brushing feels like it was a lifetime ago. The Mackay product was one of Brisbane’s brightest talents when he burst on to the NRL scene in 2011 under Anthony Griffin. But he was sacked after just six games.
Like SU’A, Gagai found himself under Bennett. He has developed into a 19-game Origin star for Queensland and will make his 226th NRL appearance on Sunday.
“I was playing for Redcliffe Dolphins and playing good footy but struggling to make weight,” Gagai said. “Anthony Griffin wanted me to be heavier and I just struggled to put on the weight.
“Once they let me go, I went back to Queensland Cup and I thought I knew I could play NRL again and then I had a meeting with Wayne.”
He said he asked Bennett if his weight was an issue. “He looked at me and said: ‘Gags, I don’t give a shit what you weigh, as long as you turn up to training on time, put in the effort and play well’.”
Arrow’s chance came after struggling to find his place in a star-studded Broncos team.
He made 24 appearances for the Broncos in 2016-17 but only three of those were in the starting side.
Arrow was released from his Broncos contract by Bennett but the coach guaranteed they would reunite.
“He said ‘there’s a better opportunity for you down there (at the Titans)’,” Arrow said. “But he said ‘one day I want to get you back’ and it’s funny how things work out.”
With his career at a crossroads, Marshall was handed a lifeline by Bennett at the Broncos in 2017. They reunited at Souths again this year.