Throughout the historic Broncos’ wooden spoon season, one word has come up time and time again.
In the middle of Anthony Seibold’s much-publicized release and the shocking collapse of the club to the bottom of the ladder for the first time in their esteemed history, something very alarming seemed wrong with the DNA of the Broncos.
Rift with the old men of the club, player dissent and fan disaffection were symptomatic of a problem at the very heart of Red Hill, something even the most hardened Broncos critics would say needs to be addressed, and quickly.
There seemed no other option but the man tasked with bringing Brisbane back to light was club legend and Queensland icon Kevin Walters – the name kept roaming the halls of Lang Park and the streets of Brisbane amid the wreckage of the club’s 2020 train.
There is no beating around the bush. A Herculean task falls on the former Maroons coach, but again, there is no man better positioned to reinstate the famous winning culture in the Broncos.
It’s the belief of club icon and board member Darren Lockyer, who says it will be Walters’ dedication to the Broncos, rather than just charisma, that will bring the club back to prominence in 2021.
“He understands the winning culture that made the Broncos so successful during that period of the ’90s,” Lockyer told Wide World of Sports.
“Kevvie lived and breathed old school culture so he knows what it looks like and what it looks like. He has a huge advantage in that trying to reinstate that. A lot of those old boys were the ones who played. a key role in the club’s success in the 90s. And he was part of it too.
“He’s an Origin coach and there’s a lot of pressure there. But saying that it’s a little different from an NRL gig. And probably the club that’s under the most pressure, whatever. where they came from. The ladder from the previous year, it’s still the Broncos. “
One of Walters’ first challenges will be identifying who his leaders are, a glaring hole amid last season’s weekly confusion on the pitch.
Alex Glenn has been named captain for another season, but it’s the bottom line that seems most desperately deprived of advice.
Lockyer thinks it’s now or never for $ 1 million a season star Anthony Milford to stand up and lead his actions, letting his foot speak in big moments rather than his voice.
It’s a lifestyle Allan Langer embraced during his time at the club and a parallel Lockyer can see between the two generations.
“I don’t think leadership comes naturally to Milford, it’s not a natural thing for him,” Lockyer said.
“But I look at Kevvie and Alf. I see Anthony as a bit like Alf, in that Alf carried out his actions on the pitch how good he was. That wasn’t necessarily what he said. And I think Anthony Milford is the same kind of character.
“He doesn’t have to be the best speaker, but he has to lead his actions and be involved. I always think you need someone to lead the attackers and you need someone who appropriates the back.
“With Darius gone, the logical person to take a part of the back line is Milford, obviously Alex is the forwards. Matt Lodge is there too so he’s experienced and is another guy who can lead this field. ‘attacker.”
Defense may be the only sticking point with every Broncos fan that Walters will have to address.
With the league’s worst defensive record at 31.2 points per game, Lockyer says it will take a reworking of strategy and a strong sense of trust “in the man next to you to do his job” – a sentiment. which was sorely missed last year. ) – to solve the problem.
“At the end of the day, it can be a bit boring, but defense wins prime ministerial positions,” he said. “If you’re not in the top two, three of the defenses, you’re not playing in the GF.
“How do you fix this? Everyone needs to understand the system. The other part is about trust. Once everyone understands their role, then it’s about trusting the other person to do their job. work. It sounds simple enough, but it’s not always easy to implement. “
Gus believes Haas “ turned off the light ”
Aside from their problems on the pitch, the Broncos will fight to keep some of their 15 stars out of contract, including some of the club’s brightest talents.
Having been picked apart during the offseason, with David Fifita, Joe Ofahengaue and Jack Bird putting new homes up for sale, the reality of Tom Dearden, Xavier Coates and Kotoni Staggs out of contract in 2021 hits home.
Lockyer has argued that the key will be nurturing a sense of mutual respect and support with the roster to keep the club’s brightest talents at Red Hill beyond this season.
“It’s one of the hardest things to do in a club right now,” Lockyer said.
“When you have kids who have huge potential, sometimes they make a lot of money pretty early in their careers and good luck to them. But if you continue to provide all of your children with a lot of money, then you have a ceiling problem.
“The fact that these talented young kids go through the Broncos system has always been there and sometimes we won’t always be able to keep them all, which is David Fifita. So that’s about us. as a club appreciating what they have done and who they are and rewarding them for it.
“But they also understand that although they are at a club that has not performed well in recent years, there is a lot of support here for them, opportunities. And this is also the start of their career, so it’s also a matter of being realistic too. “
Last but not least, the relationship with the old boys at the club – the numbers that carved out the Broncos’ DNA – was an issue that persecuted Seibold throughout his tenure at Red Hill.
With Walters, a five-time former prime minister winner with the Broncos at the helm, Lockyer saw no way it could happen again in 2021.
“When you win prime ministerial positions with all of these guys, you develop lifelong friendships,” he said.
“It’s not so much about reconnecting as it is about including them. They will always have their opinion on things, they are entitled to it.
“But Kevvie is a pretty easy-going person and he doesn’t want a conflict between the old boys and the club. He will do what he can to fix this conflict – and I hope we’re all on the same bus. Kevvie’s favorite sayings: We’re all on the same bus. “
The Broncos kick off their 2021 campaign when they face the Eels on Friday night.
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