The Brisbane Broncos’ 12-year premiership drought will extend into another season, but their fans can be hopeful for the future with the emergence of a wealth of young talent who exhibited skill and ability beyond their years.
2018 Club Record
Competition Points: 32 (6th place)
2018 Player Achievements
Player of the Year: Anthony Milford
Most Tries: Corey Oates (18)
Most Points: Jamayne Isaako (239)
Prior to the commencement of the 2018 season, the Broncos were dubbed as a genuine premiership force due to their winning culture, master coach and plethora of representative stars. Whilst there were only two competition points between the Broncos (32) and the minor premiers, the Sydney Roosters (34), a sixth place finish and a 30 point loss in a home elimination final was not the ideal finish for a club that prides itself on finishing within the top four.
From the outside looking in, the Broncos’ season appeared to have been plagued with inconsistency. However, the fact that they edged themselves into the top eight without their best forward (Matt Gillett) and star recruit (Jack Bird) should be commended. Whilst their crippling injury toll did make building partnerships and solid structures rather difficult, it did give coach Wayne Bennett the opportunity to blood numerous talented youngsters. It was the likes of Jamayne Isaako, David Fifita, Jaydn Su’A, Payne Haas and Kotoni Staggs – all previously unheralded rookies – who reinvigorated the Broncos. Their genuine match-winning ability was impressive to watch and will no doubt put the Broncos in good stead moving forward to 2019. From this perspective, the fact that each of these young men have been contracted long term and are yet to reach their full potential is certainly an exciting prospect.
Whilst the Broncos’ defence on many occasions left a lot to be desired, their much improved attacking prowess provided a raft of extremely impressive results. Of these victories, it was the wins against the South Sydney Rabbitohs (Round 8: 24-20), Sydney Roosters (Round 11: 28-22) and Penrith Panthers (Round 19: 50-18) that wound back the clock to the Broncos of old and highlighted the depth within their roster. Losses to the New Zealand Warriors, Canterbury Bulldogs and the struggling North Queensland Cowboys in the latter stage of the year, however, exposed their defensive woes and only added to the frustration.
Another talking point raised throughout the course of 2018 was the future of their super coach, Wayne Bennett. For weeks, this story topped the headlines and threatened to disrupt the Broncos’ preparation and mindset towards their matches. On the contrary, when considering that they didn’t lose successive matches once during this period, this appeared not to have been as big a distraction as many anticipated.
The positive for the Broncos is the overall stability in their squad and the long-term retention of their rising stars. For the Broncos to end their premiership drought, it is imperative that they improve the consistency and cohesiveness in both their attacking and defensive structures. Commensurate with a greater game management from the halves is the necessity for the young forward pack to fire and fill the gaping hole left by the departing players. If the Broncos can improve in these areas and utilise their abundance of talent, they will give themselves the best opportunity to secure the 2019 Telstra NRL Premiership.
NothingButLeague Player of the Season
Tevita Pangai Junior
Despite carrying a hamstring injury for the majority of the season, the 190cm forward still managed to create havoc with every performance. His willingness to stand up in the big moments was pivotal for the Broncos throughout 2018. Barrelling North Queensland Cowboy, Scott Bolton, into the goal post and stopping a certain try at the death of their Round Two clash exemplified this effort. His dominant performances in both Rounds 23 and 24, against the South Sydney Rabbitohs and Sydney Roosters respectively, helped the Broncos to victory and positioned the team well for their finals campaign. If Pangai Junior can follow suit and replicate his 2018 effort in the coming seasons (92% tackle efficiency, average of 107 run metres per game), he has the potential to form the nucleus of one of the most exciting and destructive forward packs in the competition.
2019 GAINS AND LOSSES
Sean O’Sullivan (Sydney Roosters, 2020).
Tom Opacic (North Queensland Cowboys), Jonus Pearson (St George Illawarra Dragons), Marion Seve (Melbourne Storm), Korbin Sims (St George Illawarra Dragons), Sam Thaiday (retired).