SYDNEY, AUSTRALIA - MAY 22: Keenan Palasia of the Broncos celebrates with team mates after scoring a try during the round 11 NRL match between the Sydney Roosters and the Brisbane Broncos at Sydney Cricket Ground, on May 22, 2021, in Sydney, Australia. (Photo by Matt King/Getty Images)

The Brisbane Broncos will commence their campaign to turn around back-to-back bottom-four finishes with plenty of new faces in their run on side.

Kevin Walters and the recruitment team at the Broncos, headed up by the new director of football Ben Ikin, have spent the last 12 months rebuilding and revamping their squad.

They have made plenty of shrewd re-signings, let players go, and added match-winning experience around their relatively youthful squad.

Recruitment report

Ins: Logan Bayliss (2023), Kurt Capewell (Penrith Panthers, 2024), Delouise Hoeter (2022), Ryan James (Canberra Raiders, 2022), Corey Jensen (North Queensland Cowboys, 2023), Brenko Lee (Melbourne Storm, 2023), Te Maire Martin (2022), Jordan Pereira (St George Illawarra Dragons, 2023), Adam Reynolds (South Sydney Rabbitohs, 2024), Billy Walters (Wests Tigers, 2022)

NRL Rd 6 - Broncos v Panthers
BRISBANE, AUSTRALIA - APRIL 15: Kurt Capewell of the Panthers celebrates scoring a try during the round six NRL match between the Brisbane Broncos and the Penrith Panthers at Suncorp Stadium, on April 15, 2021, in Brisbane, Australia. (Photo by Bradley Kanaris/Getty Images)

Outs: John Asiata (Leigh Centurions), Ethan Bullemor (Manly Sea Eagles), Xavier Coates (Melbourne Storm), Dale Copley (retired), Brodie Croft (Salford Red Devils), Tom Dearden (North Queensland Cowboys), Alex Glenn (retired), Danny Levi (Huddersfield Giants), Matthew Lodge (New Zealand Warriors), Anthony Milford (South Sydney Rabbitohs), Tevita Pangai Junior (Canterbury-Bankstown Bulldogs), Isaiah Tass (South Sydney Rabbitohs), Reece Walsh (New Zealand Warriors)

NRL Rd 6 - Broncos v Panthers
BRISBANE, AUSTRALIA - APRIL 15: Xavier Coates of the Broncos breaks away from the defence during the round six NRL match between the Brisbane Broncos and the Penrith Panthers at Suncorp Stadium, on April 15, 2021, in Brisbane, Australia. (Photo by Bradley Kanaris/Getty Images)

Re-signed: Jesse Arthars (2023), Selwyn Cobbo (2023), Thomas Flegler (2023), Tyson Gamble (2023), Kobe Hetherington (2023), Albert Kelly (2022), Ezra Mam (2024), David Mead (2022), Tesi Niu (2023), Cory Paix (2023), Keenan Palasia (2022), Brendan Piakura (2024), Jordan Riki (2024), TC Robati (2024), Kotoni Staggs (2025), Jake Turpin (2022), Xavier Willison (2025)

Brisbane Broncos Training Session
BRISBANE, AUSTRALIA - JUNE 02: Tesi Niu looks to kicks the ball during a Brisbane Broncos NRL training session at the Clive Berghofer Centre on June 02, 2020 in Brisbane, Australia. (Photo by Bradley Kanaris/Getty Images)

Full squad

Jesse Arthars, Logan Bayliss, Kurt Capewell, Patrick Carrigan, Selwyn Cobbo, Herbie Farnworth, Thomas Flegler, Tyson Gamble, Payne Haas, Kobe Hetherington, Delouise Hoeter, Jamayne Isaako, Ryan James, Corey Jensen, Albert Kelly, Rhys Kennedy, Brenko Lee, Ezra Mam, David Mead, Tesi Niu, Corey Oates, Cory Paix, Keenan Palasia, Jordan Pereira, Brendan Piakura, Adam Reynolds (c), Jordan Riki, TC Robati, Kotoni Staggs, Jake Turpin, Billy Walters, Xaiver Willison

PICK YOUR CLUB'S BEST 17 FOR 2022

Who plays where?

Fullback
Tesi Niu will likely start the season in the number one jumper. He finished the 2021 season there with some strong performances in behind a team who were struggling to put any semblance of consistent results on the board.

He finished the season with six tries and three assists in his ten games at fullback, and was also a threat with the ball in hand, running big metres every week.

Niu will only continue improving as he continues to gain NRL level experience, and must be given first shot at the fullback jumper this season ahead of the likes of Jamayne Isaako, David Mead, Herbie Farnworth and Selwyn Cobbo who will all contend for other spots in the team.

Wingers
There are plenty of candidates to line up on the wing for the Broncos. Young gun Selwyn Cobbo, the experienced Herbie Farnworth, the arriving Jordan Pereira, goal-kicker Jamayne Isaako and veteran David Mead are the five who will lead the way for the two spots, while Corey Oates role in the team is still up for debate after some indifferent form and a possible switch to the second-row still lingering over his career.

Farnworth is probably the best of the five, but he well and truly established himself in the centres during the 2021 season and should start the new year there as well.

That means Selwyn Cobbo will almost undoubtedly take one of the spots - a young gun with plenty of potential, he managed seven games in 2021.

NRL Rd 25 - Broncos v Knights
BRISBANE, AUSTRALIA - SEPTEMBER 04: Selwyn Cobbo of the Broncos looks on during the round 25 NRL match between the Brisbane Broncos and the Newcastle Knights at Suncorp Stadium, on September 04, 2021, in Brisbane, Australia. (Photo by Matt Roberts/Getty Images)

Given Adam Reynolds has arrived to take over the goal kicking, there is no enormous need for Isaako to play this season, which means the last wing spot is a real toss up.

Still, Kevin Walters will probably give him first shot at the position - but if he doesn't succeed, Mead or Pereira will be in the side quicker than you can click your fingers, while Oates is also lurking, but unlikely to be the first choice.

Centres
The centres are among the easiest selections to make for the Broncos. Kotoni Staggs, who only managed three games last season, takes one spot without question.

The Broncos looked a different side during those three games he played, and he made a real and tangible difference to the struggling outfit.

Farnworth takes the other spot without question either, having put in some excellent performances during 2021 on his way to 20 appearances where he racked up seven try assists and 145 metres per game.

Brenko Lee is the other option here, and will prove a handy depth option, but he barely played in 2021 and needs time in the Queensland Cup before he is thrown back to the wolves of first-grade.

Halves
Adam Reynolds is going to take the first spot in the halves - that much is an absolute given. The star recruit, who is coming off a run to the grand final with the South Sydney Rabbitohs, will wear the number seven jersey and that's that.

BRISBANE, AUSTRALIA - AUGUST 16: Adam Reynolds of the Rabbitohs passes during the round 23 NRL match between the Brisbane Broncos and the South Sydney Rabbitohs at Suncorp Stadium on August 16, 2018 in Brisbane, Australia. (Photo by Chris Hyde/Getty Images)

Who lines up alongside him though is very much up for debate.

Tyson Gamble and Albert Kelly will be the first two considered after playing plenty of football for the Broncos last year. Kelly's game is a little similar to Reynolds though, while Gamble provided a spark with his running of the football.

Ezra Mam is probably the star of the future, and while he is on a top 30 deal, it's hard to see him being a first-choice option, although he is likely to play at some point this year.

Billy Walters is the other option, but again, probably behind Gamble and Kelly.

Hard to go past Gamble to start.

Middle forwards
Payne Haas was an absolute monster for the Broncos in 2021. He is an Origin-calibre player and could be a future captain of the club - averaging 168 metres per game from 20 appearances in 2021, he also tackled strongly and played big minutes.

He is the first player picked in this side after Reynolds.

Thomas Flegler will likely take the other spot in the front row, also playing 20 games last year. He has elements of improvement left in his game, particularly in attack, but he did the little things right more often than he didn't. The average of 89 metres per game must come up though given some of the experience Brisbane have brought into the club, including Ryan James and Corey Jensen.

Lock is an easy pick too with Patrick Carrigan returning from injury. He is touted as a future captain of the club and will likely play for Queensland in the State of Origin arena this year.

BRISBANE, AUSTRALIA - AUGUST 21: Patrick Carrigan of the Broncos looks to pass the ball during the round 15 NRL match between the Brisbane Broncos and the St George Illawarra Dragons at Suncorp Stadium on August 21, 2020 in Brisbane, Australia. (Photo by Matt Roberts/Getty Images)

Hooker
First-choice hooker Jake Turpin could come under plenty of pressure this season if he can't put performances together at both ends of the park consistently.

There is no doubting how good Turpin is defensively, but his attack will be the key focus in 2022. It's an area he has at times struggled with, although that is partially down to a team being rolled each week.

With Cory Paix and Kobe Hetherington snapping at his heels, Turpin needs to be consistently excellent, particularly now Hetherington won't be able to play lock with Carrigan's return.

Second-row
The race for one second-row spot looks wide open. It's clear Kurt Capewell will take one spot, having been signed by the club after a successful stint with the Penrith Panthers.

The other second-row spot is far less secure. TC Robati, Jordan Riki or Keenan Palasia could all realistically slot in, while young gun Brendan Piakura is also going to push hard for first-grade action this year.

Riki might have the inside running on the spot, but Robatis's strength and size should give him an edge in landing a position in the starting side, which is where he was before a late-season injury in 2021.

NRL Rd 13 - Dragons v Broncos
SYDNEY, AUSTRALIA - JUNE 03: TC Robati of the Broncos makes a break during the round 13 NRL match between the St George Illawarra Dragons and the Brisbane Broncos at Netstrata Jubilee Stadium on June 03, 2021, in Sydney, Australia. (Photo by Cameron Spencer/Getty Images)

Interchange
There are plenty of options to fill out the bench for the Broncos, and plenty of experience to go with it, but which way Kevin Walters decides to go will be intriguing.

The utility spot comes down to Kobe Hetherington and Cory Paix. Paix provides more back line depth, but with Hetherington's ability to play lock, it means he will be useful each and every game, not just as cover for an injury in the backs, and you'd have to think the way he stood up to the challenge last year means he gets a spot.

It could be expected there will be one spot for a second-rower, which will go to Jordan Riki who narrowly misses a spot in the starting side, although again, Piakura will challenge.

The fact Keenan Palasia spent a significant chunk of time in the middle third during 2021 means he has added a layer of versatility to his game which can only lead to him being selected in one of the middle spots on the bench with the ability to shift wide.

That leaves just a single spot to be fought out between Ryan James, Corey Jensen, Rhys Kennedy and Xavier Willison. They will certainly go with experience, and it's hard to see James being overlooked as he takes a new lease on his NRL career, but the depth is stronger than it has been for some time.

The best 17

1. Tesi Niu
2. Selwyn Cobbo
3. Kotoni Staggs
4. Herbie Farnworth
5. Jamayne Isaako
6. Tyson Gamble
7. Adam Reynolds
8. Payne Haas
9. Jake Turpin
10. Thomas Flegler
11. Kurt Capewell
12. TC Robati
13. Patrick Carrigan
14. Kobe Hetherington
15. Jordan Riki
16. Keenan Palasia
17. Ryan James

Other best 17s

Canberra Raiders
Canterbury Bulldogs
Cronulla Sharks
Gold Coast Titans
Manly Sea Eagles
Melbourne Storm
Newcastle Knights
New Zealand Warriors
North Queensland Cowboys
Parramatta Eels
Penrith Panthers
South Sydney Rabbitohs

3 COMMENTS

  1. This is close to the team I would pick for my Broncos. Although, I would keep Riki. I think he done enough to keep the role ahead of Robati. I’m not sure Robati is agile enough to be a edge player. He is a very big unit but he does have a good offload. The bench is very hard to pick. Agree they will start with the experienced guys but I would be surprised if Willison didn’t get the call up pretty quickly.

  2. I feel like Robati is far and away a superior player to Riki, but maybe he is better off being used as an impact weapon off the bench.

    Agree – bench is a nightmare to work out. Was trying to find a way to fit Paix and just couldn’t do it.

  3. With a bit more consideration and considering the speed/style of the game I might move Carrigan to prop, Hetherington to Lock.
    The bench (stiil unsure)

    #14 Paix,
    #15 Flegler
    #16 Robati
    #17 James

    Flegler has a lot of upside but too many errors early in the game. Plus enough experience now to bolster the bench so the drop in quality isn’t as steep on rotation. You should check out Willison’s QRL stats: Mins vs output. The kid is a machine.

Comments are closed.