Why the Broncos went hard to secure Brodie Croft
Brisbane went hard to sign Melbourne halfback Brodie Croft because they firmly believe he is the right man for the right time. The Broncos are yet to make an official announcement about securing Croft for 2020 but expect to do so in the coming days. Brisbane club great and board member Darren Lockyer told Nine News that Croft was set to join the club on a three-year contract. The arrival of the 22-year-old will give Brisbane a half with the game management skills and composure to provide the direction that was often lacking during the 2019 season.
Croft will have highly rated 18-year-old Tom Dearden snapping at his heels and keeping the heat on and give the club much needed depth at number seven with Sean O'Sullivan out of action until mid-season on his way back from an ACL injury. Croft's organising and kicking skills will free up Anthony Milford to play the instinctive, running style of football that is his trademark. Milford is expected to return to the number six jersey as Croft's halves partner.
Croft is highly valued by coach Anthony Seibold. He will arrive at Red Hill in the knowledge that he has the full confidence and backing of his coach. Seibold has gone on the front foot to secure Croft, who has notched 39 NRL games, because he believes he will do the job the Broncos clearly need. That faith will not be lost on Croft. Seibold was at the Storm as an assistant to Craig Bellamy and rates the systems where Croft has cut his teeth as a rising half.
Critics of Croft will argue that if he was as good as the Broncos believe he is then the Storm and coach Craig Bellamy would not be prepared to let him go and would have played him in last season's finals series. The fact is that Bellamy played him in the 2018 grand final and for 22 games in 2019 before becoming convinced that he needed to have Jahrome Hughes and Ryan Papenhuyzen in the starting side.
Croft's record in 2019 was impressive in that the Storm won 18 games that he played in and lost just the four. Melbourne recognise that Croft should be playing as a starting half and, combined with their own salary cap pressures, the timing is right for him to make the move to the Broncos where he will be the kind of player that Seibold should enjoy coaching.
Croft is low-maintenance off the field, disciplined and well spoken. He is the kind of modern NRL player clubs know will be a good ambassador away from the field. He is also regarded as a senior representative player of the future after captaining the Queensland under 20s in 2017 and vice-captaining the Junior Kangaroos to a 60-4 win over France in October. Croft is also in the Emerging Maroons program and will be in the mix to play halfback after Daly Cherry-Evans exits the Origin arena.
He was born in Dalby and went to school at St Joseph's in Toowoomba before moving to Churchie in Brisbane where he was a member of the GPS-winning rugby team alongside Kalyn Ponga, Jaydn Su'A and Izaia Perese. The main thing from Brisbane's angle is that he is also the footballer they believe can provide the side with the direction it needs and make the most of the impact and momentum created by a formidable forward pack.
There will be pressure and scrutiny on Croft, as there is on any Broncos player that wears the number seven jersey. That expectation goes with the territory and Croft is smart enough to realise that he will be expected to hit the ground running. His recruitment is a sign that Brisbane realise the area that needs bolstering in their squad and have got on the front foot to provide a solution they will be hoping returns the club to the top four and premiership contention.