Thursday, November 30, 2023

Rugby League’s immortal Mal Meninga criticizes Brisbane Broncos coach Kevin Walters for his selection ‘dilemma’

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Rugby League immortal and fellow Maroons legend Mal Meninga slammed Kevin Walters’ decision to ditch half-back Brodie Croft Brisbane’s ugly 40-6 defeat in stormy weather.

Walters was forced to pay for losing sight of the big picture while playing mind games with rival Craig Bellamy upstream.

With a day before the clash, he attempted to get inside the legendary coach’s head by claiming that Croft would start the game with Tom Dearden to warm up the bench as 18th man.

However, Dearden started the game in place of Croft, with the former Storm playmaker demoted despite playing a leading hand in the Broncos’ only win of the year against the Bulldogs.

Meninga was unable to make sense of Walters’ bad decisions at the selection table against the NRL premiers. Dearden failed to make his mark on the squad as the Broncos let in seven Storm tries to lose their third game of the season.

“I’m not clearer on his (Walters’) reasoning… do you change your halves when you have a win?” Meninga said on Fox Sports.

“I hope they (Croft and Dearden) know the reasons, I hope these conversations continue behind the scenes.

“The dilemma is when did Tom know he was starting… and when was Brodie told he was on the bench?”

The decision to start Dearden exploded in Walters face and the coach’s ill-advised call is difficult to defend given that Dearden only played seven minutes in the win over Canterbury last week and didn’t managed to make the Broncos’ 17 in the first two weeks of the game. year.

Walters’ plan to give the playmaker the starting role against the NRL Premiers with just seven minutes of NRL football to his name, before the fit Croft, could have serious implications for the chemistry of the LNR. team and the confidence of the players for the new coach. .

Ryan Papenhuyzen scores to try No.4 in first half

Croft was brought onto the field with just over a quarter of the game remaining against Melbourne, with the Broncos dropping 18 points. When asked what triggered the selection change, the Broncos coach said Dearden deserved to start the game after scoring a bench try against the Bulldogs.

“I just thought Tom was pushing his way through there,” he said.

“We had to give him a chance. Brodie played well, but it was an opportunity for Tom.”

As for the result, the former Maroons coach lamented the 11-minute period that saw Storm back Ryan Papenhuyzen tear his squad apart in four tries.

“It has been an overwhelming time for us,” he said.

“We have to look at this area. It’s three times this season that the opposition gave us two, three or four quick tries… it really hurts.”

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