Brisbane Broncos 2017 Preview

  • Signings & Losses
  • Player Rankings
  • Strongest 17
  • Close Results Record
  • The Professor’s Prediction
  • Your Prediction

Signings & Losses

Signings: Benji Marshall (St George – HB), Tautau Moga (North Queensland – C), Mitchell Dodds (ESL – P), David Mead (Gold Coast – W), Korbin Sims (Newcastle – P)

The signing of Marshall has been much publicised and has just about everyone (minus Wayne Bennett) baffled. The Professor is hearing center may be where he is placed but with a tackle efficiency of just 80.9% in 2016 – well below the center average of 87.4% – he just can’t see it happening. He’ll be utility value off the bench, at best! The late addition of Sims sees an already formidable forward pack improved. Mead is the only other player that will be a regular within the 17 taking his position on the wing.

Losses: Corey Parker (Retired – LK), Jarrod Wallace (Gold Coast – P), Jack Reed (Retired – C), Lachlan Maranta (Union – W), Greg Eden (ESL – W)

Three regular 1st graders leave the side with club legend – Parker – leaving the biggest gap. Apart from his huge efforts in both attack and defence, it could be his goal kicking that will be most sorely missed with Kahu now the most recognised goalkicker (at just 75.29%). An injury-riddled 2016 for Reed meant he only managed 11 games. Wallace, perhaps unexpectedly, is the biggest loss in the Professor’s eyes. He was the only forward to play all 26 games for the Broncos! Not only that but he lead the team in defence with a 96.5 tackle efficiency.

 

Player Rankings

Fullback
Darius Boyd had an outstanding 2016 but The Professor’s stats show 5 players (although Billy Slater only played 1 match) had an even better 2016! Boyd is one of the safest fullbacks in the game making the least errors of any fullback (to play 5 matches or more) with an average of 0.3 per game.

David Mead finds himself lower down the fullback rankings having played 11 of his 18 games there affecting his stats. Mead is renowned for his running game with little playmaking ability – a requirement for the modern day fullback. Will find himself on the wing at the Broncos where he will be more at home.

Wingers
Corey Oates was rewarded for his form in 2016 with a State of Origin jumper. An 8th place ranking among wingers for 2016 but reading a little deeper he came 5th of those to have played 15 games or more. Apart from Bevan French – who played some matches at fullback – Oates averaged the most meters per run with a mammoth 11.7 meters!

New Zealand international Kahu has well and truly established himself as a regular starter in the Broncos line-up. The only question is will this be in the centers or out on the wing? Kahu played the majority of 2016 on the wing but also featured in the centers when Reed was injured. A ranking of 19th is a fair read and if he can consistently play the one position in 2017 he shall improve.

2016 debutant Jonus Pearson did himself no harm with his 3 appearances in 2016. A capable fill-in who should appear around State of Origin time. Limited appearances have assisted his 26 rank of 56 wingers to appear in the NRL in 2016.

Centres
Touted as State of Origin in the pre-season, thanks to his form with the Titans the previous season, James Roberts struggled to take his game to the next level. He stats don’t read as bad as they sound though ranking 6th among centers. Apart from his speed to burn his ability to break tackles is his greatest trait averaging 4.1 tackle breaks per game.

Tom Opacic made his debut in 2016 covering for the now-retired Jack Reed and with the form shown in these 9 games, he leads the charge in making the number 3 jersey his own. Opacic owned the number 12 ranking among centers thanks to his ability to put his winger through the line. His defence was suspect on a number of occasions and his tackle efficiency of 83.2% is within the bottom 10 centers of 2016.

Moga managed just 1 appearance in 2016 at the Cowboys. Issako, Seve, M, Pangai, and Terupe are among the other contenders for the center’s position and are a part of the Broncos NRL training squad.

Five-Eight
Anthony Milford continues to improve taking the 5th rank among five-eights while finishing the same position in the Dally M Medal. 1st in run meters and 2nd in tackle breaks show just how dangerous Milford can be on his day. Milford is a certainty to get a Queensland jumper in his career but with two of the greatest halves, the game has ever seen currently occupying the role he is unlikely to don it in 2017.

Rookies Scarlett and Murphy are yet to make their debut and are unlikely to see any action in 2017 with Milford playing every match for the Broncos the past 2 seasons.

Halfback
Ben Hunt enters 2017 playing for a contract and with a number of suitors out there his form will decide just how large the pay day could be. Hunt is regarded as one of the best halfbacks in the game and his ranking of 3rd among NRL halfbacks proves that point. His kicking game is his greatest asset setting up for a number of tries while also putting the Broncos in great field position.

Once regarded as the World’s Best Player Benji Marshall has slowly been losing touch with the rest of the NRL. Previously renowned for his running game he now needs to rely on his playmaking ability. Finishing with the 12th rank among halfbacks is a great result for Benji considering the Dragons scored that 2nd least amount of tries in 2016. The biggest question mark that remains is where will Wayne fit Benji on his team (that is if he even makes it…)?

Props
Josh McGuire took his game to the next level in 2016  – ranked 5th among props – and has been continually improving since debuting at the Broncos. With 150 appearances to his name, along with Queensland & Australia honors, The Professor expects McGuire to once again improve and take Parker’s position as the leader in the forward pack and perhaps even the lock position!

New Zealand international best days look to be past him. His ranking is now consistently in the 40’s and he finished 2016 in 43rd position. Blair’s aggression is one stat not measurable and the mongrel Blair brings to the Broncos pack is undeniable. Look for Blair to be of a similar rank throughout 2017.

A late addition to the Broncos Korbin Sims has taken a pay cut in search of premiership glory. Surprisingly Sims ranked 46th among props in 2016 and his stats show why – below average for props in tackle efficiency, run meters and meters per run.

Joe Ofahengaue is yet to find his feet within the Broncos NRL side, due to his limited playing minutes, but 2017 could be a different story. The loss of both Parker & Wallace sees Ofahengaue move up the pecking order (ranked 68th among props) and with his increased minutes we should see an uplift in confidence advancing all of his stats in 2017.

Herman Ese’ese, much like Ofahengaue, should see an increase in games and minutes played in 2017. Ese’ese averaged a massive 10.2 meters per run in 2016 which was top among NRL props to play 5 games or more! Herman’s ranking of 76 should take a massive leap in 2017 should he find a spot on Wayne Bennett’s bench.

Mitchell Dodds returns to the NRL after a season with Warrington in the Super League and will challenge Ese’ese for a spot on the bench. Francis Molo didn’t manage to add to his 6 NRL appearances last year and will be hoping a chance arises around State of Origin time. Aaron Rockley and Sam Lavea are unlikely to see any NRL action in 2017 but with 5 of the 6 props mentioned above coming off contract they will want to prove their talent.

Hooker
Mr. Consistent – Andrew McCullough – heads in 2016 as the 6th best hooker from last season. McCullough’s defence is what sets him apart from the competition with a 96.4% tackle efficiency and an average of 40.6 tackles per game. McCullough offers little in attack with just 1 try assist and line break assist per 10 games. If he is to improve his game he needs to increase those numbers.

Travis Waddell played 4 games at the mid-season stage covering the loss of McCullough. A more attacking player Waddell averaged more line breaks than most hookers but his defence was below average. Will struggle to find game time in 2017 with Nikorima becoming more experienced within the role.

The Professor is a big fan of Kodi Nikorima but hooker just isn’t his position. Nikorima ranks in the top 5 for meters per run and top 10 for tackle breaks among hookers but he didn’t manage one try assist or line break assist! His rank of 30th in 2016 (36th in 2015) prove the fact that he just isn’t a hooker although the 1, 6 & 7 are well occupied already. Perhaps The Professor could be proven wrong in 2017.

Second Rowers
A regular Queensland & Australian representative – Matt Gillett – coming in position 26 just doesn’t make sense or does it… The Professor had the same reaction but when looking at the stats it does make sense. Gillett averaged 80 meters per game which was above average but his meters per run of 7.8 makes him the 2nd worst of players to play 10 game or more! In defence, his tackle count is well above the average but his efficiency is below the average for an NRL second rower. Stats aren’t everything but is Gillett as good as his rep honors show?

Young Jaydn Su’A debuted in 2016 at the tender age of 18 and is well and truly a superstar of the future. Named in the 2016 NYC team of the year the second rower earned himself the 29th rank among second rowers. Averaging 30.3 tackles per game and a tackle efficiency of 95.3% Su’A is well above average on both counts. He will be challenging for a regular spot in 2017 and The Professor doesn’t think it’ll be long till he is in a New Zealand jumper (unless Queensland poaches him).

Alex Glenn struggled in 2016 compared to previous seasons. In attack, he was above average for run metres and meters per run but in defence, he was well below average for tackles and tackle efficiency. A shoulder injury which saw him miss out on the Four Nations may have attributed to this but it will be interesting to see if he can get back to his best in 2017.

Consigned to the bench for the 1st few games of 2016 Sam Thaiday returned to the starting lineup after State of Origin. Much like Gillett, Thaiday ranks quite low (ranked 32nd) in the second row considering his standing within the game. Since 2014 The Professor has seen a progressive slide in Thaiday’s stats. His meters per run have consecutively dropped since 2014 and his tackle efficiency by over 6% compared to the previous 2 seasons. Now the eldest player in the Broncos pack Thaiday needs to step up but The Professor sees his form continuing to fall in 2017.

Tevita Pangai Junior is another player that made his debut in 2016 and he looks to be a damaging player in the future. An average of 21.3 minutes greatly hindered Pangai’s ranking of 69 but with an increase of minutes, we should see him charge up the rankings. In both Pangai and Su’A the Broncos have genuine superstars of the future and should do everything possible to keep them there for many years to come.

Salesi Funaki is another young second rower within the Broncos ranks but with soo much talent ahead of him we shouldn’t see him don a maroon and gold jersey in 2017.

Lock
2016 debutant Jai Arrow has long been touted as Corey Parker’s heir apparent and in 2017 he gets his chance to do just that. Arrow’s low amount of minutes greatly hampered his ranking of 20th among locks. There are some great signs ahead though with Arrow above average in both meters per run and tackle efficiency. At just 21 years of age Bennett might elect to play Thaiday in the lock position to start the season but come the end of the season The Professor believes Arrow will have made it his own.

Joe Boyce played a solitary game of NRL in 2015 and was unsighted in 2016. Boyce along with George Fai will apply pressure to Arrow but The Professor doesn’t think they attain the same talent to make the grade.

 

Player Age 2016 Position 2016 Games Played 2016 Position Rank
James Roberts 24 C 25 6
Tom Opacic 23 C 9 12
Tautau Moga 24 C 1 51
Jamayne Issako 21 C DNP DNP
Marion Seve 22 C DNP DNP
Moses Pangai 26 C DNP DNP
Nikau Terupe 21 C DNP DNP
Darius Boyd 30 FB 25 6
David Mead 29 FB 18 22
Anthony Milford 23 FE 26 5
Sam Scarlett 23 FE DNP DNP
Todd Murphy 27 FE DNP DNP
Ben Hunt 27 HB 26 3
Benji Marshall 32 HB 16 12
Andrew McCullough 27 HK 21 6
Travis Waddell 28 HK 4 22
Kodi Nikorima 23 HK 16 30
Jai Arrow 22 LK 12 20
George Fai 21 LK DNP DNP
Joe Boyce 23 LK DNP DNP
Josh McGuire 27 P 24 5
Adam Blair 31 P 24 43
Korbin Sims 25 P 22 46
Joe Ofahengaue 22 P 16 68
Herman Ese’ese 23 P 8 76
Aaron Rockley 23 P DNP DNP
Francis Molo 23 P DNP DNP
Mitchell Dodds 28 P DNP DNP
Sam Lavea 21 P DNP DNP
Matt Gillett 29 SR 21 26
Jaydn Su’A 20 SR 4 29
Alex Glenn 29 SR 23 30
Sam Thaiday 32 SR 22 32
Tevita Pangai Junior 21 SR 14 69
Alex Barr 22 SR DNP DNP
Salesi Funaki 22 SR DNP DNP
Corey Oates 23 W 22 8
Jordan Kahu 26 W 20 19
Jonus Pearson 22 W 3 26

 

Strongest 17

1. Darius Boyd
2. Corey Oates
3. James Roberts
4. Jordan Kahu
5. David Mead
6. Anthony Milford
7. Ben Hunt
8. Korbin Sims
9. Andrew McCullough
10. Adam Blair
11. Alex Glenn
12. Matt Gillett
13. Josh McGuire

BENCH
14. Sam Thaiday
15. Kodi Nikorima
16. Joe Ofahengaue
17. Tevita Pangai Junior

Close Results Record in 2016

Wins: 2
Losses: 4

The Professor’s Prediction

Apart from the loss of Parker and Wallace from the forward pack, not much has changed to the Broncos 2017 squad. As always, Brisbane has some great young talent in their squad and The Professor can see players like Pangai Junior, Su’A and Arrow will be forcing their Wayne into some tough decisions on who to cut from the 17 each week.

Mead will prove to be a great acquisition for them and should top the try-scoring charts for the Broncos although much of this will depend on how Kahu adapts to the center role on a permanent basis. The signing or Marshall still has The Professor scratching his head but his leadership around State of Origin time will prove invaluable.

Such is the depth in the squad there is healthy competition across the park which is sure to keep everyone on their toes. The Broncos are in a position where they are a top 8 side but won’t be challenging for the premiership.

Verdict – 6th

 

Your Prediction

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