Old School Footy Discussion

tommy

tommy

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I think Presto and Bailey were the first signings though weren't they??

Thought Presto was sort of 'presented as a titan' during the GF before their first year wasn't he??

Thought Prince was getting to the back end of his 20's by the time he started with the Titans (and nearing 30 was considered to be getting on in NRL back then)... he was probably the marquee that they were looking for, but I don't really recall him being a constant origin player for qld at that point (Lockyer and JT, with Cronk already starting to hit his straps).

Rogers had come back from union and was looking old.. think Bailey was the big origin level player that they had early on. Presto was obviously an excellent player but couldn't crack the NSW teams.
Rogers broke his leg 1stgame for them if memory serves me.
 
BroncsFan

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Titans were well before the Suns- 2007 vs 2011.
Fair enough... just recall that it was always going to be GC and both codes were clamouring to get a foothold in the area.

NRL probably to leverage off the recent success of the QLD origin team and AFL just to try and create some sort of identity in QLD other than the lions
 
Alec

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I think Presto and Bailey were the first signings though weren't they??

Thought Presto was sort of 'presented as a titan' during the GF before their first year wasn't he??

Thought Prince was getting to the back end of his 20's by the time he started with the Titans (and nearing 30 was considered to be getting on in NRL back then)... he was probably the marquee that they were looking for, but I don't really recall him being a constant origin player for qld at that point (Lockyer and JT, with Cronk already starting to hit his straps).

Rogers had come back from union and was looking old.. think Bailey was the big origin level player that they had early on. Presto was obviously an excellent player but couldn't crack the NSW teams.
Prince turned 27 in their first year. He had at least 3 or 4 great years there, and still ended up being picked for Australia and QLD when Lockyer was injured. He definitely couldn't jump ahead of Lockyer and Thurston, but I thought he was clearly the next best half in the game for those first 3 or so years.

Preston was around 30 or so I think, but he turned back the clock being picked at fullback. His size was the only thing really letting him down, when it those years every back needed to be 90+ KG to be considered effective.
 
theshed

theshed

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Do we know how the signings worked?were they all off contract players? We’re they sighed more than 1 season in advance? Were they given exemption or the ability to break contracts early to join ?
 
Big Pete

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On the Gold Coast Titans, once Souths were re-admitted the NRL were always looking to expand to an even numbers just to avoid giving teams the weekly bye. The NRL was also facing an issue with talent retention as more and more players were turning to Rugby and the ESL so opening up more spots was a way to fix that.

The Gold Coast put together a great proposal centered on junior development with the club being spear-headed by this savvy young businessman and former player Michael Searle and the Roosters assistant coach tipped to be the next big Rugby League mind, John Cartwright.

They were admitted in early to mid 2005 and they set the blueprint on how to build a successful club by signing one of the best halves in the game in Scott Prince and one of the best front row forwards in Luke Bailey. They made some really astute signings around that time bringing in Preston Campbell, Anthony Laffranchi, Brian Carney to help flesh the squad out. One of the big coups was Mat Rogers who was just beginning to get long in the tooth in Rugby and needed a fresh start. On a personal note, Rogers was a big coup for me as his Origin debut was one of the first matches I saw and he instantly became one of my favourites.

Then they started signing strong fringe first graders like Nathan Friend, Gavin Cooper, Brett Delaney, Luke O'Dwyer, Michael Henderson, Clint Amos etc.

It was a strong side that was going to ensure they'd finish above the wooden spoon but the litmus test was their ability to develop quality Rugby League players. They had a strong group of exciting up and comers with their three biggest prospects being Shannon Walker, Chris Sandow and Bodene Thompson. Later on they would go onto snare the signing of one of the most exciting youngsters coming through the Queensland schools system in Jordan Rapana but that was the initial three players and none of them really panned out for the Gold Coast.

The first loss was Sandow who simply had a better opportunity at South Sydney. Souths halfback was Jeremy Smith, a NSW halfback who is most famous for being Sean Hampstead over in what was set to be one of the lowest scoring games in Rugby League history until that incident. After that, things got pretty bare with Eddie Paea not quite working out. Souths had an affiliation with Easts Tigers which is how they got Dave Tyrell and they were on the hunt for quality Queensland talent. So they picked up Luke Capewell who was one of the biggest talents of his age group and Sandow.

Walker was the litmus test and it's difficult to know where it all went wrong exactly. Walker was sensational for Tweed Heads in their successful 2007 campaign and appeared to be the next big fullback to come through and the obvious successor to Campbell. However he never improved on that season and really faded into obscurity.

So those players didn't work out and they really under-performed at that 20s level. The NYC could be another conversation entirely in terms of pros and cons, but the Gold Coast were promoting themselves as a development club and the best they could manage was an 8th placed finish in 10 years in the competition. It wasn't like they didn't try either they went ahead and signed some pretty big names in juniors like centre Dominic Walsh (Souths), second row Ryan James (Melbourne), Kingi Akoula (Wests) and Ronnie Avolli (Penrith) around that time and a lot of those players were just lost to the game.

Still their recruitment was strong and that was good enough to build them into a quality team by their third season. On paper the Titans had invested wisely and well on their way of establishing a strong foot-print in Rugby League until issues started to come to light about their finances. In an effort to try and stay ahead of the competition, the Gold Coast had spent so much money they were facing bankrupcy and in the end had to sell some of their assests just to remain in the competition. This all came to a head in 2012 but the signs had been apparant since 2010 they were beginning to cut corners with their juniors which sent the club spiralling.

From there you have Cartwright stretching the succession plan out longer and failing to get the club on track. You have the Neil Henry era where he was essentially a placeholder before they took a gamble on another up and coming coach which backfired spectacularly in Garth Brennan. Brennan had some good ideas initially but his decision to bring all these expendable players from Penrith with him hurt.

I feel like the legacy of the Titans is a team that pulled the wool over everybody's eyes. They had a good five year plan but the execution was horrendous and they're extremely lucky to still be around. I do think they're starting to turn things around and the focus on junior development is the right option for them. However they really need Jayden Campbell and the like to step up unlike the previous generation.
 
BroncsFan

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Prince turned 27 in their first year. He had at least 3 or 4 great years there, and still ended up being picked for Australia and QLD when Lockyer was injured. He definitely couldn't jump ahead of Lockyer and Thurston, but I thought he was clearly the next best half in the game for those first 3 or so years.

Preston was around 30 or so I think, but he turned back the clock being picked at fullback. His size was the only thing really letting him down, when it those years every back needed to be 90+ KG to be considered effective.
Prince was definitely great for the titans and I do recall tigers going downhill after he left, as it became apparent that Prince was the glue keeping them together and not Benji/Farah.

I guess to me it's that Prince was their best and was able to offer 3-4 good years of footy, but not a decade. It doesn't suggest that recruitment had long term vision or there wasn't an opportunity for them to pick up a decade long franchise player straight away.

I think when Brisbane 2.0 comes in the player market is very fluid and can allow a Munster to come on board along with someone like a BSmith, etc. so they can try and find their JT type franchise player to build around.

The success of Brisbane 2.0 will come down to their initial recruitment and which big franchise player they pick up.

Will it be an ageing star on the decline (not suggesting Prince is an equivalent here, just someone that is a panic buy to get some star power) or can they grab a superstar on the rise... they'll have the money to go after whoever they want in the market (pending contract status) so those first big signings will be massive to their success moving forward.

The only issue they are facing at the moment is how late the NSWRL are leaving it for them to get started... they'll be able to start recruiting players as of November 1 (about 5 weeks away), but you would want to have your R&R in place as well as your coach.

Bennett is the likely coach for whoever gets it and is an excellent start up coach to have as he'll have the whole of next year off to plan, but you'd wanna hope guys like BSmith, Harry and Manu haven't already made up their minds before you can get in front of them.
 
Sproj

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Almost 15 years on, the Titans still suck and are only just now getting their juniors coming to fruition. I hope the NRL are patient with the 17th team who will likely follow a similar path.
 
Big Pete

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I always remember it as Prince being #1 but @BroncsFan is right. Campbell was 1, Bailey was announced a few weeks after then it was Brian Carney.

I'm not sure if they were off contract or not, I believe the Gold Coast were granted an exemption and able to announce signings early. The only signing I know who was off contract was Carney who was finished with St. Helens and signed with the Knights in the interim. However, he ended up getting home-sick during his time with the Knights and ended up returning home.

Prince signed just as the 2006 season started and that set the tone for the Tigers season and really ended whatever chance they had of establishing themselves as one of the better teams in the NRL.
 
theshed

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On the Gold Coast Titans, once Souths were re-admitted the NRL were always looking to expand to an even numbers just to avoid giving teams the weekly bye. The NRL was also facing an issue with talent retention as more and more players were turning to Rugby and the ESL so opening up more spots was a way to fix that.

The Gold Coast put together a great proposal centered on junior development with the club being spear-headed by this savvy young businessman and former player Michael Searle and the Roosters assistant coach tipped to be the next big Rugby League mind, John Cartwright.

They were admitted in early to mid 2005 and they set the blueprint on how to build a successful club by signing one of the best halves in the game in Scott Prince and one of the best front row forwards in Luke Bailey. They made some really astute signings around that time bringing in Preston Campbell, Anthony Laffranchi, Brian Carney to help flesh the squad out. One of the big coups was Mat Rogers who was just beginning to get long in the tooth in Rugby and needed a fresh start. On a personal note, Rogers was a big coup for me as his Origin debut was one of the first matches I saw and he instantly became one of my favourites.

Then they started signing strong fringe first graders like Nathan Friend, Gavin Cooper, Brett Delaney, Luke O'Dwyer, Michael Henderson, Clint Amos etc.

It was a strong side that was going to ensure they'd finish above the wooden spoon but the litmus test was their ability to develop quality Rugby League players. They had a strong group of exciting up and comers with their three biggest prospects being Shannon Walker, Chris Sandow and Bodene Thompson. Later on they would go onto snare the signing of one of the most exciting youngsters coming through the Queensland schools system in Jordan Rapana but that was the initial three players and none of them really panned out for the Gold Coast.

The first loss was Sandow who simply had a better opportunity at South Sydney. Souths halfback was Jeremy Smith, a NSW halfback who is most famous for being Sean Hampstead over in what was set to be one of the lowest scoring games in Rugby League history until that incident. After that, things got pretty bare with Eddie Paea not quite working out. Souths had an affiliation with Easts Tigers which is how they got Dave Tyrell and they were on the hunt for quality Queensland talent. So they picked up Luke Capewell who was one of the biggest talents of his age group and Sandow.

Walker was the litmus test and it's difficult to know where it all went wrong exactly. Walker was sensational for Tweed Heads in their successful 2007 campaign and appeared to be the next big fullback to come through and the obvious successor to Campbell. However he never improved on that season and really faded into obscurity.

So those players didn't work out and they really under-performed at that 20s level. The NYC could be another conversation entirely in terms of pros and cons, but the Gold Coast were promoting themselves as a development club and the best they could manage was an 8th placed finish in 10 years in the competition. It wasn't like they didn't try either they went ahead and signed some pretty big names in juniors like centre Dominic Walsh (Souths), second row Ryan James (Melbourne), Kingi Akoula (Wests) and Ronnie Avolli (Penrith) around that time and a lot of those players were just lost to the game.

Still their recruitment was strong and that was good enough to build them into a quality team by their third season. On paper the Titans had invested wisely and well on their way of establishing a strong foot-print in Rugby League until issues started to come to light about their finances. In an effort to try and stay ahead of the competition, the Gold Coast had spent so much money they were facing bankrupcy and in the end had to sell some of their assests just to remain in the competition. This all came to a head in 2012 but the signs had been apparant since 2010 they were beginning to cut corners with their juniors which sent the club spiralling.

From there you have Cartwright stretching the succession plan out longer and failing to get the club on track. You have the Neil Henry era where he was essentially a placeholder before they took a gamble on another up and coming coach which backfired spectacularly in Garth Brennan. Brennan had some good ideas initially but his decision to bring all these expendable players from Penrith with him hurt.

I feel like the legacy of the Titans is a team that pulled the wool over everybody's eyes. They had a good five year plan but the execution was horrendous and they're extremely lucky to still be around. I do think they're starting to turn things around and the focus on junior development is the right option for them. However they really need Jayden Campbell and the like to step up unlike the previous generation.
Great read Pete. Cheers
 
ningnangnong

ningnangnong

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I still remember being at the 2006 Grand FInal and the big 'unveiling' of some of the Titans players. Or am I dreaming that? Preston Campbell was definitely the marquee signing, so to speak. All the promotion featured him.

Miss watching Presto play TBH, proper footy player, not just an athlete who follows instructions.

Side note - this is one of my favourite threads.
 
Big Pete

Big Pete

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So I wanted to skip forward a season to 2004 in what proved to be a really pivotal season for the club. The Broncos were coming off a disasterous end to their 2003 campaign where they lost eight straight and they clearly needed to make some changes.

In the ensuing years the game had become more structured with teams placing further emphasis on last tackle plays and set pieces to break opposition teams down.

The Broncos were lacking in that department and if Lockyer couldn't conjure something up they would really struggle to put teams away.

There was a lot of uncertainty about the Broncos headed into 2004 and one of the more popular predictions heading into that season is that they'd miss the 8 entirely.

One of the best calls Bennett made that season was addressing the spine. Everyone knows about the bold decision to play Locky at 6, but he also complimented that decision by making Brett Seymour the starting 7 and bringing in Barry Berrigan as the 9. Both players really suited the meta with Seymour's kicking game providing the Broncos with far more control while Barry's ability to get out of dummy half helped the team get on the front foot.

Of course the coup de gras was selecting 17 year old Karmichael Hunt at fullback. I don't think we'll ever see such an extraordinary selection in our lifetime. Not only was it remarkable to see a 17 year old virtual no-name displaced the Australian Captain but it proved to be 100% the right move.

What made it so impressive is that it wasn't exactly smooth sailing either. The Warriors really went after Karmichael and they caused him to make some errors but he came out of it and quickly became one of the better players in the competition before he could even legally have a drink.

On paper Bennett made all the right moves and Brisbane quickly asserted themselves as one of the front runners again. Everything was going swimingly even a rib injury to Lockyer couldn't dampen things until...

Both Brett Seymour and Barry Berrigan suffered season ending injuries mid-way through the season.

Suddenly the complexion of the season changed and the Broncos had to scrape as many wins as they could. Players like Paul Green, Darren Smith and recently retired Ben Ikin were called in and had to work together with younger players like David Stagg, Neville Costigan, Gary Tupou and Tom Learoyd.

Despite losing Seymour and B. Berrigan the basic framework of the team was there with 1. Hunt and 6. Lockyer. That was the key for the team and players like Casey McGuire and Michael Ryan who had to fill in flourished in their roles. McGuire in particular really came of age at this time as a Mr. Fix It which would become vital in 2006.

Just to illustrate that point, the Broncos scored more than a 100 points than the year prior despite missing their starting halfback and hooker for the majority of the season.

The Broncos were 15-5 when they played front-runners Canterbury infront of a packed Suncorp Stadium. That was the day any hope of a premiership was thwarted as they ran out 46-18 winners. After toiling all season, the Broncos hit the wall and went out in straight sets. It was a disappointing end to the season and fans expected better but by the same token considering where the club started there was a lot of positives to take out of that year.

With Lockyer starring in the Tri-Series the future was looking very bright with the premiership window well and truly open.
 
Super Freak

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I still remember being at the 2006 Grand FInal and the big 'unveiling' of some of the Titans players. Or am I dreaming that? Preston Campbell was definitely the marquee signing, so to speak. All the promotion featured him.

Miss watching Presto play TBH, proper footy player, not just an athlete who follows instructions.

Side note - this is one of my favourite threads.

No you’re not dreaming that. That was the big part of the pre-game entertainment, the unveiling of the Gold Coast Titans.

On the TV they showed a video that was shot on the beaches of Surfers Paradise that had people wearing the jersey and the name on the back. Can’t remember if it was the actual players or just random people as they never showed their faces.

Then after that video came the unveiling of the Titans at the stadium.
 
Super Freak

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It’s too bad the Titans stuffed up their 5 year plan because they were coming good at the back end of it finishing in the top 4 in 2009 and 2010 and making the Prelim Final. Then it all came crashing down in 2011 finishing with the wooden spoon and they were never able to recover. They became the easy beats and the side where 2 points was pretty much guaranteed if you turned up.

They are showing some signs of life now, but it’s whether they can maintain that is the big question.
 
Big Pete

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It's funny how your mind remembers certain things. I've never actually seen the full game before but I remember watching the news highlights way back when and a freak-ish chip and chase kick. Sure enough there it is right at the end of the video.



Got to love the double forward pass before the opening try. I love how the referee refers it upstairs for a forward pass, almost like he knew the other passes had been suspect so he better check this one as well.

Just judging from the brief snippets, it seemed like one of those games where Brisbane played like Nevilles and got their just desserts. It's never good when Brad Thorn travels all the way from 1981 to put a late shot on Jason Taylor to gift them opening points.
 
Big Pete

Big Pete

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2005!

But before I begin, I should explain the point of taking this stroll down memory lane. The point was to paint the picture that things weren't as bright as you may have remembered them and the Broncos struggled after pulling off an incredible bounce back in 2000.

However the game kept changing, the Broncos success cost them and in order to stay relevant Bennett had to make some incredibly bold choices like moving the Australian Captain from his preferred position ultimately to compensate an unheard of 17-year old utility player from the GPS Rugby system.

All the while the competition was changing. A lot of the best players were retiring or coming to the end of their careers and a new generation of talent was rising. Once struggling clubs were beginning to get themselves together while the top clubs were trying their best to retain their talent.

It was an exciting time that was best represented in Round 3 when the Wests Tigers won an incredible back and forth game against the Bulldogs 37-36. It would have been heart-breaking for the Bulldogs, but as a Rugby League fan their start to the season just highlighted how open the year was. First round they dominate one of the competition's best team in the Dragons 46-28. The following week they travel up to Townsville and LOSE to a determine Cowboys outfit following a stand-out performance from sleeping giant Carl Webb. I believe this was also the game where Rocket Rod Jensen made a Sattler like tackle that doesn't receive much mention.

Side tangent, any content creators out there should do a Top 10 Most Unlikely Try Saves after Scotty. Sure, the Darren Albert on Matt Seers 1997 Prelim Final was a beauty but I'm talking plodders tackling outside backs. Scott Bolton on Jarryd Hayne, Jason Ryles on Justin Hodges that sort of display.

So after the loss to the loss to the Tigers, the Bulldogs went to Shark Park and the Sharks put 18 points on them in as many minutes. Cronulla had only just started to pull themselves together after the Chris Anderson era ended terribly and fans couldn't believe the Bulldogs were 1-3.

At Red Hill, the Broncos appeared to be rejuvenated heading into the 2005 season and while they did farewell their skipper Gorden Tallis they were arguably in a better position. Dual Internationalist Brad Thorn re-joined the club and his seniority was the ideal replacement for Tallis. Meanwhile after a disappointing end to his stint at Bondi, the prodigal son Justin Hodges returned to a mixed reception.

Actually mixed is being generous, fans LOATHED Hodges and he was considered one of the most overrated players in the competition. It's funny to think about now but I was there at his Suncorp return where he was loudly booed when he was announced pre-game. It took awhile but by mid-season Hodges had established himself as one of the best centres in the competition and would go onto become a real fan favourite.

2005 was the last time I considered the Broncos a genuine force in the competition. After their checkered start to the season that was punctuated with a 50-4 loss to Melbourne where the Storm basically picked up where they left off in their last encounter the Broncos went onto win 13 of their next 15 games.

The Broncos were just so well structured as a team. The spine that Bennett had put in place in 2004 had developed their combinations and no other team could work that second man play as well. Young halfback Brett Seymour was no longer a teenager and his kicking game, especially in the red-zone was among the best in the competition and Lockyer had really found his footing as a five-eighth after a disrupted 2004. The backline of Berrigan, Hodges, Tate and young flier Leon Bott was remarkably potent and the forward pack could match it with any in the competition.

Even a quiet achiever like Casey Maguire was making waves and earned himself a well deserved Origin jersey.

It was the Broncos competition to lose...and so they did.

Coming off a disappointing Origin series, the Broncos just appeared to be coming off the boil. It was like clockwork where the same song and dance that had haunted the club since 2001 would take over. The Broncos would lose a couple of close games, then they'd lose a key player and suddenly they just couldn't win those tight games anymore.

As a fan it was so uncomfortable to watch this clearly talented team struggle to do things that came so easily months before.

In the centre of it was Brett Seymour. While he was in very good company it's easy to forget that Seymour was having a quality season in his own right and it wouldn't have been ridiculous to call him a potential Origin player. Certainly he was ahead of Cooper Cronk at that stage of their respective careers. However when the Broncos needed a half to make the difference he imploded forcing injured players to come back early and try to make a difference.

Side tangent part two, but one of my favourite early BHQ memories was Strapping Young Lad (I've got the right guy, yeah?) reading tea leaves to predict whether Justin Hodges would play against the Wests Tigers. They correctly predicted Justin would play based on them spilling the tea leaves but miraculously getting the tea leaves 'just-in' the pot. Hodges played but gee he shouldn't have.

The end to 2005 was truly devastating. Of all the years, it really felt like the Broncos had let the premiership slip through their fingers and worst of all they did it on back of a seven game losing streak. It was extremely difficult to enjoy anything about the club and while they still had a good team heading into next year and still had good young prospects coming through it was difficult to take them seriously until they could actually win in September.

Then to make matters worse, Australia suffered a shock defeat in the Tri-Series and Lockyer would suffer a foot injury that would require surgery and put him in doubt for the season opener. There was also a lot of pressure on Bennett around this time especially after he ducked the press at the Brisbane airport. It appeared his time was going to come to an end unless he did something drastic.

Which he did when he fired Kevin Walters, Gary Belcher and Glenn Lazarus from his staff. With that move, Bennett had thrown down the gauntlet and with largely the same squad from 2005 was going to take one last crack at premiership glory.

Let's go out with a side tangent, I had grave fears heading into 2006 until the Broncos announced the signing of Michael Ennis. Until that point I had no idea how the Broncos were going to improve after only signing an interchange forward from the Roosters who were even worse. In Ennis, I saw their next Luke Priddis and an attempt to finally right a wrong that had hurt the club since 2001.
 
ningnangnong

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Thoughts on Barry Berrigan in that 2005 season @Big Pete?

From memory, though much unheralded, he proved himself to be quite capable. But I may be mixing that up with 2004.
 
Big Pete

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Thoughts on Barry Berrigan in that 2005 season @Big Pete?

From memory, though much unheralded, he proved himself to be quite capable. But I may be mixing that up with 2004.
I thought Barry was the best dummy half the Broncos had since Priddis. He wasn't much different from his brother - he was a strong runner who played tough. Unfortunately right as he was putting it together his body was failing him and he really only had that one season (2005) to make his mark. He was a handy player but he was another casualty during the post-Origin season slump and by the time he returned the club was in freefall.

I never watched any of his 21 games at the Bulldogs. I've always presumed he had his share of set-backs and suffered the same fate as his brother where he was jack of all trades master of none. By the time he settled on his position, he was at the end of his career.
 
Big Pete

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And finally...

2006.

For the Broncos it was a case of something has to give. They had done well to put themselves in premiership contention the past five seasons but come finals they were found wanting. It had become routine in recent years and despite all the talk coming out of Red Hill there was still a lot of apprehension about the year ahead.

Outside of the players losing a stack of weight under Dean Benton, the big story around that pre-season was Karmichael Hunt at 7. Hunt found himself in the mix at 7 with the view being long term he'd find himself in the halves. In the short term, the sessions in the halves were intended to influence his play at fullback and to give the Broncos an extra ball-playing option.

Otherwise it was business as usual and if there wasn't any panic stations after the 58-10 drubbing against Melbourne, they were well and truly in effect after North Queensland inflicted a 36-4 drubbing and broke a stack of records in the process.

It was a demoralising result for the club and serious questions were being asked. Was Darren Lockyer the right choice as captain? Should he still be fullback? Why did Bennett bench both Seymour and Ennis for Perry and Casey McGuire? Why did Bennett make such a big fuss about dropping Brad Thorn and Corey Parker only to recall Thorn?

It was a bad afternoon all-round for the Broncos with the Clydesdales going down 36-10 against the North Queensland Young Guns.

It was one of those results that hung over the Broncos for the opening half of the season and despite amassing an impressive 9-2 record to lead the competition nobody bought them as premiership favourites. Around the same time, Melbourne had announced themselves as premiership front-runners with Cooper Cronk surprising everyone with a break-out season for the ages and he was in good company with Greg Inglis putting his hand up as the most dangerous player in the competition after filling in for Slater at fullback

Still 9-2 was nothing to sneeze at, especially after such a disastrous start to the season. I don't think that performance was really reflective of Brisbane as a team and even on the receiving end of a big drubbing there were some great signs like the form of Justin Hodges who was just out of this world. They were also missing a slew of players like Brent Tate, Tonie Carroll, Sam Thaiday and Corey Parker who would become regulars and it was Darren Lockyer's first game back after breaking his foot in the 2005 Tri-Series.

On top of that players like Shane Perry, Tame Tupou, Greg Eastwood and Ben Hannant put their hands up and the team became a lot stronger in the arm wrestle. They weren't as flashy as their 2005 counter-part, but they were becoming more effective at playing the percentages which was illustrated perfectly in the 2006 Good Friday win against the Roosters where they grounded the Roosters down to win 24-6.

On top of that, it seemed like the Maroons series win would have a significant influence on the Broncos, but the initial signs were poor. Their opening 10-4 loss to Melbourne in Melbourne was forgivable but then came losses to a Cowboys side that loss Johnathan Thurston during the early stages, an injury plagued out of form Wests Tigers and it just seemed like history was repeating itself.

Then came arguably the best loss in club history, an 18-12 loss against Melbourne. The Storm were going from strength to strength at this point and had amassed a 10 game winning streak to put themselves well ahead of the pack. It seemed like this was going to be a repeat of 2004 where Canterbury came into Suncorp and put 48 on Brisbane to effectively end whatever chance they had of a premiership. However Brisbane were the better team for the majority of the game and had it not been for a 20 minute period just after half-time where Melbourne exploited some of the positional play of the Broncos, Brisbane would have won that game.

There were a few factors in play here. The intensity of the forward pack lifted with Thaiday coming off the bench into the starting team and feeding off the experienced players. It was such a strong rotation of forwards and Thaiday would handle the initial exchanges and bring on Parker who was given a license to use his skill-set and was able to showcase more of his second-phase which had gone horribly unused.

Justin Hodges went to fullback and that allowed him to get more involved and take advantage of the ruck, so if there was a quick play the ball on offer Hodges could exploit the A defenders which allowed Lockyer and Berrigan to use their support game which was still world class. Speaking of Berrigan found his footing at dummy half and was given the simple task of running. Berrigan wasn't great at organising, defending or passing from dummy half but he could run and it just made the Broncos far more potent.

Brisbane had found their second wind and despite two stumbles in the final, they managed to overcome a first round loss against St George to inflict a 50-6 smashing of an injury riddled Knights side. Then they came back from 20-6 down to do a Bulldogs on the Bulldogs and come up with a dramatic comeback.

The Grand Final was marred by some controversy and Brisbane were fortunate that Cameron Smith picked up an injury early on but what was evident was that Brisbane were the stronger team in the arm wrestle and Melbourne were caught pushing passes. It's a game where Gus infamously said you could throw a handkerchief over the Broncos, but what he didn't note was the effective gains the Broncos were making out of dummy half. Whenever Brisbane were in trouble, Tate, Hunt, Hodges, Berrigan, Boyd etc. would work it out of dummy half and give the forwards a much needed breather while Melbourne would continue to push passes.

It wasn't the most glamorous victory, but Brisbane identified the value of the ruck and had two of the best exponents of it in Berrigan & Hodges. That gave them more variety in attack which gave Lockyer a better platform to work off of and the experience of Shane Perry allowed him to pick his moments more carefully. Then in the run home to the finals, the forwards lifted and made a big point of difference.

It wasn't going to be a sustainable formation, but on that night, they were the better team and achieved their most unlikely premiership in what had been a rollercoaster of a year.
 

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