Predicted Finish: 7th
Actual Finish: 3rd
Best Performer: Josh McGuire
2017 was a career-defining year for Josh McGuire. Shifted into the 13 after the retirement of legend Corey Parker, McGuire made the lock position his own. He also wrapped up the jersey at state and national level, and if he continues to play like he did this season I can’t see that changing anytime soon. In the regular season, he made over 32 tackles per game as well as almost 140 metres. Given Parker was a renounced workhorse, McGuire’s efforts really helped softened the supposed blow. It’s his aggression and never say die attitude that makes him stand out. How many times did he take the difficult carry out of his own end, or the second hit up in a set? He’s not the most likeable guy in the competition but I think he thrives on that. He’s established himself as one of the game’s premier forwards.
Season Highlight: Round 22: 54-0 win over the Titans
Who doesn’t enjoy running up a half-century of points while keeping the local rivals scoreless? This was as one-sided a game as we saw all season as the Broncos ran riot in front of the Titans home fans. Ben Hunt scored a hat-trick of tries, Nikorima two, while Milford, Moga, McGuire, Oats and Roberts also crossed the line. To be truthful the Titans weren’t exactly the hottest of oppositions but this was a masterclass by Wayne Bennett’s men. As made very obvious by the scoreline, this game was never really a contest, but it was an entertaining afternoon for everyone other than fans of the Gold Coast. Ten tries, some of them absolute highlight reel material, made for a great day out for those from Red Hill. Considering their meeting earlier in the season saw the Broncos pip their younger brothers 24-22 at Suncorp, this was a massive blow out.
Best Signing: Jack Bird
22-year-old Jack Bird already has a rookie of the year award, a premiership medal, and a five Origin jumpers to his name. His time at the Sharks may have ended on a somewhat sour note, but this kid became a star during his time in the Shire. Brisbane have gained a weapon centre/five-eighth/fullback, depending on where Bennett wants to play him. Reports indicate he has a shoulder injury, but he’s played through pain his entire career so I don’t think there should be a whole lot of concern. He’ll likely replace the Newcastle-bound Moga in the centres, but he could slot into the halves should Nikorima and Milford fail to fire. He may even cover fullback if Boyd shifts. He’s a great option for multiple positions. Great signing.
Life after Hunt: Having your star halfback sign away for the following season before a ball was even kicked off is never ideal, but the Broncos handled it well. When McCullough went down injured Hunt was shifted to full-time hooker to cover his absence. This allowed Kodi Nikorima to play big minutes. The plan moving forward looks as though Nikorima will slot into halfback next year also, so the time he spent working with Anthony Milford was a priceless experience. Jack Bird’s arrival also provides a second option if Bennett wants to shift Milford into halfback. Either way, they look to have the halfback position covered next season.
Strike centres: Across the regular season Tautau Moga and James Roberts scored a combined 24 tries, made 22 line breaks and ran for over 6200 metres. Sides need strike centres to win titles, and the Broncos had one of the best centre partnerships across 2017. Some would say THE best. The numbers certainly back up that comment. Moga will depart for Newcastle but Jack Bird will slot straight in meaning Brisbane fans can expect a similar output from their centre combination moving forward.
Alex Glenn returns to form: There was a time where it looked as though Glenn was set for a departure from Brisbane despite his tremendous output for the side in past years. Fast forward to the end of 2017 and he played every game for the Broncs are run up some impressive numbers. He made over 100 metres per game and made over 25 tackles. He even chipped in with eight line breaks. His return to form really provided another avenue in attack and bolstered the side’s defence.
Season Grading: A-
The Broncos finished firmly in the top four, bounced Penrith in the second week of the finals, but were ultimately taken apart by the Storm in the penultimate week of the finals. Had they not have been beaten 30-0 in the Grand Final qualifier this would have been a solid A marking.
Probably a little harsh as losing to the Storm shouldn’t take the gloss off the season as a whole, which was a beauty. They went on a six-game win streak from round six, including a whopping 36-0 win over the Tigers in round 11.
Brisbane managed to score 99 tries in the regular season alone proving they had no problems scoring points. They also made almost 5 line breaks per game showing the attacking potency of the likes of Roberts, Moga, Boyd and Milford.
It’s pretty hard to find anything, other than their final game, negative about the season. Yes, they lost Ben Hunt but to be honest it didn’t really disrupt the season as many thought it might. He was super professional and even played out of position to help his side.
All in all a brilliant season for the Broncos. Yes they fell one game short of the ultimate goal but to be honest this was the Storm’s year, and no one was edging out the purple.