North Queensland Cowboys Scrimmage and Fan Day In Ayr
AYR, AUSTRALIA - FEBRUARY 13: Cowboys coach Todd Payten looks on during a North Queensland Cowboys Scrimmage game against the Townsville Blackhawks at Rugby Park on February 13, 2021 in Ayr, Australia. (Photo by Ian Hitchcock/Getty Images)

One down, 24 to go.

The first eight games of the 2021 NRL season didn’t just provide us with our initial set of winners and losers, it raised another series of questions.

With each of the league’s 16 teams set to do battle again this weekend, we attempted to answer the major issues facing their playing lists and coaches alike.

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Brisbane Broncos

Which half was the real Brisbane?

When the whistle blew for half time and Kevin Walters made the jaunt south from the coaches box to the sheds, you could imagine him whistling as he strolled.

Who could blame him? 16-0 up at the half with a side that won only three games the previous year against a team that was still pushing their case at the business end of 2020.

An hour and 24 unanswered Parramatta points later and ‘Kevvie’s’ tune was muted.

In the fallout from Brisbane’s breakdown loss, a set of questions must now be asked – are they actually as good as the first half suggested and are they as bad as the last 40 either?

The latter query can be answered succinctly – yes.

Their form last year under Anthony Seibold and Peter Gentle was eye wateringly bad, even for those with no emotional or financial affiliation with the former powerhouse.

With a playing roster in 2021 that is well and truly thinner than what the aforementioned pair were working with 12 months ago, it should surprise nobody, Walters included, that the Broncos are still miles off the pace.

Should you raise the point that Brisbane were without Payne Haas and Kotoni Staggs – two of a small group of bright lights last year – I am more than happy to offer you a minor concession, but with a marathon season ahead, and the likelihood that the latter could depart, don’t wear out the card too soon.

There is no denying that Walter’s men had a crack on opening night, but can their fans expect more from them this week? Sure, if you’re optimistic enough. However, will they deliver? Probably not.

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