Cameron Smith’s warning to Broncos as rivals circle stars
Peter Badel, The Courier-Mail
7 minutes ago
Queensland champion Cam Smith has warned the Broncos face being ripped apart by NRL rivals preparing big-money raids on Brisbane’s best batch of talent in 20 years. On the eve of Brisbane’s season-defining derby against the Cowboys on Thursday night, former Maroons skipper Smith says the Broncos will soon be under siege to retain their young guns in pursuit of premiership success. Promising hooker Jake Turpin was the latest Bronco to stay loyal on Tuesday, inking a three-year upgrade to join key forward duo Matt Lodge and Tevita Pangai Jr in pledging their futures to Brisbane.
Cameron Smith says Brisbane must brace themselves for an ambush on their squad. Picture: Bradley Kanaris
But more retention headaches are looming for the Broncos. Queensland’s flagship NRL club has 11 players off-contract next season, including key quartet Anthony Milford, skipper Darius Boyd, Jack Bird and Andrew McCullough, plus boom rookies Tom Flegler, David Fifita and Kotoni Staggs. Despite Brisbane’s heavy 40-4 loss to the Storm last Friday night, Smith believes the Broncos have the stable of talent to win a seventh premiership, but advised the club to brace for poaching threats. “Staying together is the challenge for the Broncos,” Smith told The Courier-Mail.
Brisbane’s gun rookies will command plenty of attention from rivals. Picture: Dave Hunt
“I can see the talent they’ve got and they could do that (win a premiership) in the next few years, but the issue is keeping their squad together. “Other clubs are going to come calling to get their best talent – I can see it happening. “The challenge for Brisbane now is to keep these kids together under the salary cap to keep stability in the club.” Storm hooker Smith grew up in Logan at a time when the Broncos were rugby league’s powerhouse club, winning six premierships in a golden era between 1992-2006. Now mired in a 13-year premiership drought, the Broncos are in danger of missing the finals this season for just the sixth time in 32 seasons.
Jake Turpin re-signed with the club on Tuesday. Picture: Jono Searle
Smith says the expectation on the Broncos is huge but believes Brisbane coach Anthony Seibold, who worked at Melbourne for three years, can eventually bring success to Red Hill. “I know Anthony Seibold from his days in Melbourne and he’s a good coach, he’s a smart coach,” Smith said. “His style of coaching is very different to Wayne Bennett’s. “We’ve seen signs of his style coming through this year, they have been in pretty good touch in the last month so it’s just about getting the young guys to have that consistency every week. “They have gone through a lot of change as has our club. “I lived my entire childhood in Brisbane watching them succeed and they were the benchmark of this competition for a long, long time, but they are going through a period of change.
“They are missing some experience in key positions. “In this competition you need to be on every weekend to be competitive. It will take the Broncos a while to get back to the top, but in the next 18 months to two years, with their level of talent, they can be back around the benchmark of the competition again.”
Veteran Brisbane back-rower Alex Glenn, himself off-contract at season’s end, said the Broncos have already had to fight hard to retain Lodge, Pangai Jr and Turpin. “In this game there are always salary-cap issues,” he said. “It’s hard to keep your squad together at one club when everyone else wants a piece of them. “It’s definitely hard for our club, we’ve had to make some tough decisions to release players in order to keep others for the future. “I’d hate to be a head coach in this game. To make these big calls and how you will structure the roster for a long time, that’s the stressful part of the job to try and win premierships.”