The Broncos has a brilliant 2017 season and fell just one game short of a Grand Final appearance. Although their season ended on a sour note with a 30 nil loss to the Storm, the rest of the season’s efforts should not be forgotten.
Many had the Broncos slipping last season but they blew teams apart on their way to recording the second highest points scored in the competition with a massive 597. That was 97 more points than the second placed Roosters and over 40 points more than their next closest rival (in terms of points scored) the Raiders.
Further proving that they did not lose a step last season was the fact they finished fourth in terms of points conceded.
Josh McGuire stepped up and ensured the Broncos barely felt the retirement of club legend Corey Parker. For mine, he was Brisbane’s best in 2017 although there was no shortage of stars. James Roberts returned to his destructive self while his centre partner Tautau Moga had a career-best year.
Recruitment Grading: C
Ultimately the Broncos have lost more than they have gained but there doesn’t look to be too many concerns in terms of roster strength. Ben Hunt is the big out and leaves the Broncos without a stand out replacement, although Kodi Nikorima looks set for a big 2018. Jack Bird comes in for Tautau Moga in a straight swap of sorts, while Matt Lodge and Sam Tagataese come in for Blair and Ese’ese. Jai Arrow has also moved on but Corey Oates expected the move into the back row will cover this nicely. Overall, Hunt aside, the Broncos look very similar in terms of ability next season despite a fairly large turn over of players.
Star Player: Anthony Milford
In 2017 Milford scored seven tries, laid on 15 try assists and made eight line breaks. Impressive numbers but the truth is the majority of fans considered Milford’s 2017 season to be a little below par. If that is below par I’d hate to see the numbers he runs up in a good season. Milford literally has everything in his game. One of the code’s genuine game-breakers, he has ‘blink and you miss me’ speed and elusiveness. His kicking game improved in 2017 and with another off-season under his belt he should feel more comfortable yet again. He’s lead his side to three straight finals appearances in the number six including a Grand Final and a prelim. Not bad for a 23-year-old.
Strength: Experienced spine
Despite Milford and Nikorima, each being just 23 years of age, the Broncos has a spine chock full of experience and talent. Andrew McCullough has played 216 NRL games and injury allowing looks set to join the 300 game club before he hangs up the boots. Darius Boyd has literally done it all in his 269 NRL games + over 50 rep appearances. He’s won club titles, Origins, World Cups and has set try scoring records in the process. His ball playing from the number one position is a major reason he has become such a force over the years. Nikorima has 55 games and Milford 118 completing a 1, 6, 7 and 9 with plenty of games, and game-breaking ability, to their names.
Weakness: Possible front row frailty
The Broncos have one of the best back rows in the competition but unfortunately look a little light up the middle. Sims and Lodge are big men but lack the fear factor the likes of Fifita, Bromich and co provoke. That’s not to say they’re bad players. Sam Thaiday will likely continue to play in the middle off the bench with Joe Ofahengaue likely to play as the fourth prop in the rotation. They’ll all put their backsides on the line but its hard to see any busting a game open like middlemen in other sides. Lodge is returning from a long lay off at this level, a big ask for a starting prop.
Every year people call it but the Broncos demise never happens. Many have them finishing outside finals footy in 2018, and although I do see them slipping slightly from the incredible heights of a third-placed finish last year, they’ll still finish in the eight.
Ben Hunt is a massive loss despite Nikorima’s undoubted talent. His presence in the side, even at hooker, made the Broncos a far better outfit.
Jack Bird is a clever in. He can break a game wide open and can also slot into the halves if needed. There are genuine concerns about a shoulder injury but Bird looks on the road to full fitness and should be a big asset in the maroon.
The Broncos have lost some experience in Blair but have found it in Sam Tagataese. Matt Lodge’s arrival has been well documented and doesn’t need repeating here. Overall the Broncos pack looks pretty good under new leader Josh McGuire although perhaps the Lodge/Sims front row does look a little lacking compared to their rivals.
Corey Oats move into the back row has been a long time coming and I’m excited to see how he goes. He’s certainly got the size and power, while his speed will be a real asset out wide. The move does leave the Broncos a little lighter out wide but it’s hardly panic stations.
Overall the Broncos look a solid outfit with plenty of stars across the park. That said, there look to be seven better sides than them, hence the eighth-place finish. I’m confident they’ll play finals but I can’t see them repeating last year’s top four placing.