The current Broncos are putting an enormous amount of faith in at least one of two youngsters to step up and take control in a short period of time.
Broncos need to find a leader of the pack
August 22, 2019 — 3.57pm
There is no doubt that the band of young forwards assembled by Brisbane is potentially the most impressive and damaging group that our game has seen in many a year. With an average age of 21, the likes of Haas, Fifita, Lodge, Pangai, Ofahengaue, Flegler, Carrigan and Kennedy have the natural talent and physical capabilities to run rampant.
Sean O'Sullivan takes on the line against the Knights.Credit:AAP
That is, if they are directed in the right way. The simple game plan is to have them tuck the ball under the arm and run as hard and straight as possible. That will win games, but when it comes to real success in the NRL, it is not that simple. Apart from the immediate influence of coach Anthony Seibold, a wolf pack of this degree will also need on-field direction, which usually falls to the team’s half-back. These are the No.7s who have led their sides to premiership success since the Broncos last took the title in 2006. Cooper Cronk, Chad Townsend, Johnathan Thurston, Adam Reynolds, Mitchell Pearce, Daly Cherry-Evans, Ben Hornby and Matt Orford. Fair to say that the honour roll is full of established and strong individuals who were very comfortable in moving their team around the park.
The youngest victor was Cherry-Evans who, at 22 years of age, was part of Manly’s 2011 success and was aided by the fact that the highly skilful ball-player Glenn Stewart was also a pivotal member of that team. The Broncos sit in the eight but under siege from a host of chasers ready to send them out backwards. With the decision to allow Kodi Nikorima to move to the Warriors and the seemingly long term switch of Darius Boyd and Anthony Milford between five-eighth and fullback, the current Broncos are putting an enormous amount of faith in at least one of two youngsters to step up and take control in a short period of time.
Eighteen-year-old Tom Dearden looked impressive in five matches this season before injury forced him onto the sideline and into surgery. He displayed an air of confidence in helping to secure three wins before an ankle injury denied us getting a better idea of what he potentially has to offer. Seibold and club legend Darren Lockyer have been effusive in their assessment of what they believe he will provide in 2020 and beyond.
Teenage Brisbane halfback Tom Dearden looks to set up a support player.Credit:NRL Photos
Looking to push his claims tonight for the regular half-back position is Sean O’Sullivan, who also brings up his fifth first-grade game, two days after celebrating his 21st birthday. He too has had injury concerns this year after making the move up from the Roosters, where he made his debut last season. O'Sullivan also looked comfortable in his three games this year, with an astute left foot kicking game a strong part of his contribution. Having brother-in-law Matt Lodge alongside against the Rabbitohs should help him feel a touch more at home. In fact, these type of games can be extremely beneficial early in a career: being put in pressure situations puts you in good stead for similar such occasions down the track. The Broncos sit in the eight but under siege from a host of chasers ready to send them out backwards. They are unbeaten in five of their last six matches but have been unconvincing, shown by their minus-40 differential.
This is a powerhouse club who expect success, and Seibold has made a heavy investment in youth in looking to return to their glory days. After entering the competition in 1988, they won six premierships in 19 years. There have been none in the past 12 seasons. The current forward pack will have plenty to offer over the coming years but need a general to send them the right way, in the right fashion at the right times. That role is one that needs to be embraced by either Dearden or O’Sullivan, who, at the beginning of 2019, we knew little about. Hopefully they can be inspired by the last half-back to guide Brisbane to a premiership title. At your next trivia night see how many people can recall that it was the unheralded Shane Perry who was able to get the job done.