A 14th placed finish in 2021 was a considerable improvement upon their 2020 season, which will go down as arguably the worst season in the club’s history. Coach Kevin Walters – in his debut season at the helm of the Broncos – was able to extract improvements out of his men, winning seven matches last year compared to the mere three they won in 2020. However, the Broncos haven’t been content with the performances over the past two seasons and will look to build upon the improvements that they showed during 2021.
2022 BRONCOS SQUAD
Logan Bayliss, Kurt Capewell, Patrick Carrigan, Selwyn Cobbo, Herbie Farnworth, Thomas Flegler, Tyson Gamble, Payne Haas, Kobe Hetherington, Delouise Hoeter, Jamayne Isaako, Ryan James, Albert Kelly, Corey Jensen, Rhys Kennedy, Brenko Lee, Ezra Mam, Te Maire Martin, David Mead, Tesi Niu, Corey Oates, Cory Paix, Keenan Palasia, Jordan Pereira, Brendan Piakura, Adam Reynolds, Jordan Riki, TC Robati, Kotoni Staggs, Jake Turpin, Billy Walters, Xavier Willison.
KEY SIGNINGEmbed from Getty Images
The Broncos have been very active in the market over the off-season, with 11 new faces coming to the club, one of these players includes former New South Wales halfback Adam Reynolds. The 31-year-old joins the club after 10 successful seasons with the South Sydney Rabbitohs, including a memorable premiership victory in 2014. The 231-gamer enters Red Hill with plenty of expectation after guiding the Rabbitohs to a grand final last season, which they lost to an impressive Penrith Panthers side. Reynolds’ ability to steer his side around the park, in combination with an excellent kicking game, was a key reason why the Rabbitohs made the grand final and subsequently allowed his halves partner Cody Walker to play an ad-lib role.
Reynolds’ situation will most likely be different this season as the former Rabbitoh joins a squad that has struggled over the past two seasons, evident in their 10 victories in that time (the Rabbitohs won 32 in the same period, including 20 last season). 2022 will be a grind for Reynolds and we’ll see the halfback getting his hands dirty as he looks to guide the Broncos out of this trough and back into the top eight.
KEY PLAYEREmbed from Getty Images
As above, Reynolds will be the key player for the Broncos throughout the 2022 season and is the best halfback the club has seen since Ben Hunt’s departure in 2017. Reynolds is a brilliant game manager and was directly involved in 12 tries last season, assisting seven and scoring a further five; however, it’s his kicking game that could arguably be his biggest attribute for this Broncos side. The Broncos had the fourth-least forced dropouts during the 2021 season, with just 30. They now have a player who has forced 162 dropouts in his 231-game career, however, only nine of those came in 2021 (Reynolds’ lowest season total). Although, Reynolds has accumulated 15 or more forced dropouts in six of his 10 seasons in the NRL – and if he can achieve this mark in 2022, it’ll go a long way to helping the Broncos improve their field position and apply pressure to opposition teams.
PLAYER TO WATCHEmbed from Getty Images
19-year-old Selwyn Cobbo just about gets every NRL fan excited, especially fans from north of the Tweed. The versatile outside back was given the opportunity to represent the Indigenous All-Stars over the weekend and chalked up 70 run metres and six tackle breaks in his 53 minutes on the field. Those six tackle breaks were enough to get me excited for Cobbo’s 2022 season after playing just seven games last season. Debuting as an 18-year-old, the teen sensation averaged 103 run metres per game and broke an impressive 25 tackles over the course of his seven appearances. Cobbo’s ability was on full display in the final game of the Broncos’ 2021 season against the Newcastle Knights, which saw the 19-year-old run for 186 metres, score a try, assist a try and break six tackles. A performance that would be deemed exceptional by any player, let alone a teenager.
Cobbo also starred in Wynnum-Manly’s six-point loss in last year’s Queensland Cup final. In what will go down as one of the great reserve grade performances, Cobbo scored a try, broke an incredible 18 tackles, and amassed a mammoth 274 running metres. If that doesn’t get Broncos fans excited, I don’t know what will. Selwyn finished his brilliant 2021 Queensland Cup campaign with six tries, 70 tackle breaks and 184 run metres per game in just 10 appearances. Another name to keep an eye out for is 19-year-old Ezra Mam. The teenage half is yet to make his NRL debut, and may not feature much this season, but was a standout in the 2021 Queensland Cup. Mam finished his 11 game season with 13 tries and eight try assists.
Rabbitohs (H), Bulldogs (A), Cowboys (H), Warriors (A), Roosters (H), Panthers (A), Bulldogs (H), Sharks (H), Rabbitohs (A), Sea Eagles (Magic Round), Knights (A), Titans (H), Raiders (H), Storm (A), Cowboys (A), Dragons (H), Titans (A), Eels (A), Tigers (H), Roosters (A), Knights (H), Storm (H), Eels (H), Dragons (A)
On paper, the Broncos should improve upon their seven wins from last season, thanks largely to the addition of Adam Reynolds and Kurt Capewell to the squad, who bring some much-needed experience and ability to this young Broncos side. Players such as Kotoni Staggs, Payne Haas, and Patrick Carrigan will no doubt benefit from playing alongside Reynolds and Capewell throughout the year and it now provides the club with a stronger core of senior players.
However, there are still question marks over some positions in the Broncos’ squad, most notably the five-eighth position. Brisbane have Albert Kelly, Tyson Gamble, Te Maire Martin and Billy Walters fighting out to partner Reynolds in the halves for the 2022 season. Stability in this position early in the season will be a key for both the Broncos and Reynolds as they look to avoid using a rotating cast of number sixes as the season progresses. Hopefully, for the Broncos’ sake, they can figure this out early and avoid a slow start to the season (one win after seven games in 2021) as it’ll only weaken the club’s slim chances of returning to the top eight.
It’ll be an interesting season for the Brisbane Broncos, who enter 2022 with higher hopes than this time last year, although, it’ll still be a difficult task qualifying for finals footy. A finish just outside the eight (10th-12th specifically) would equal my expectations for this side and would indeed be an improvement upon their 2021 season. There’s a small chance they’ll sneak into the eight, but that’ll be dependent on their stars playing excellent footy for 24 straight games.