Kevvie’s clout: Why the Broncos will surprise other teams
The Broncos' first-round loss to Parramatta has provided the first clue why the club's old boys fell out with the Brisbane board over new coach Kevin Walters.
The Broncos did not beat the Eels but this much was clear. They put in. They had a crack. They were not great but they at least looked like a team playing for the coach and for each other.
Sure, they faded in the second half but being stranded on a steamy night with one player on the bench in a fast game they were always a chance of being swamped.
When past players were agitating for Walters' appointment to the Broncos they noted the current players liked the former premiership skipper and would slap everything they had on the table for him because they would hate letting him down.
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It's a sentiment which sounds old-fashioned - because it is - but it is a timeless and often underestimated factor.
Boards can assume players paid hundreds and thousands of dollars will routinely "put in'' but sometimes it just doesn't happen.
When Walters missed several club jobs, including the Broncos three years ago, there were stories he was "out-presented'' at interviews by more dazzling presentations and that's life.
But his best skills are far removed from the world of bullet points and overhead transparencies and stretch to a basic connection to his players.
We must not get ahead of ourselves here and because it's clear a hugely challenging season lies ahead for the Broncos. But if they can row in the one direction at least they may pull off some surprise wins.
The spicy new union between no-nonsense coach Todd Payten and the North Queensland Cowboys is shaping as one of rugby league's most intriguing stories of the year.
Payten may have been under fire for the limited minutes (51) he gave superstar Jason Taumalolo in the poor loss to the Panthers but we loved his brutal honesty after the game when he said his team were lucky not to lose by 50 points and that Taumalolo had to improve his marker defence.
After three bottom-four finishes in a row, the Cowboys cannot complain about being force-fed some bitter medicine if they want to improve.
That said, for a coach to go the distance in our politically sensitive world where raw criticism can easily alienate the playing group, selective use of the blowtorch is normally the best method for survival.
The debate over who should be the Broncos halfback - Brodie Croft or Tom Dearden - is set to rage on throughout the winter.
Former NSW State of Origin centre Ryan Girdler said on Triple M he feels that now that Anthony Milford is running the ball more Dearden is better suited to the scram base than Croft who won first dibs for the season opener against the Eels.
The thinking is that Dearden is better suited to marshalling the team down field, perhaps towards a corner kick which will enable a flighty Broncos team to control the game.
The revelation that Cameron Munster is keen to return to Queensland to captain a second Brisbane team is seen as a significant boost for the concept.
What a coup it would be. Wally Lewis was the first signing for the Brisbane Broncos three decades ago and once the King had put pen to paper many other followed. Munster could easily have the same Pied Piper effect for the new team - whoever they are.
A decision will be made on whether a team will be admitted in the next few months and Queensland Rugby League officials are watching developments closely.
They just hope that when the financials are lined up it is an overwhelming "yes'' or "no'' to the concept given that some franchises have spent the past decade ready to pounce without a final decision being made.
Originally published as Kevvie's clout: Why the Broncos will surprise other teams