Alarm bells ringing for Broncos
WHEN interviewed at a Men of League function in February, Anthony Seibold was questioned on his reaction to Wayne Bennett's assessment that the young Broncos forwards were the most talented crop the club had produced.
His response was succinct, and somewhat cutting. "Was that before or after he left the club?" Seibold retorted.
After just four rounds it is far too early to write off the Broncos as 2019 premiership candidates. But for the avid fans - like me, who tipped them to make the top four and thought they were a genuine premiership chance - the early signs are not encouraging.
And no doubt the lack of experience in that young and talented forward pack is the cause for most concern - and for two alarmingly-poor displays in the past two weeks.
Against the Roosters on Thursday the seven forwards used averaged just 24 years of age. And the average number of NRL games between them was 128.
Sure, age and a lack of experience is no excuse for a stunning stat of 54 missed tackles, which meant the premiers had the ball for 60 per cent of the match and ran almost 800 metres further. The 36 points conceded is the most by the Broncos against the Roosters.
Coach Seibold knew it would take time for his young team to jell. While fully aware of the talent at hand, he never expected overnight miracles.
But he must surely have hoped for more from his captain.
Following an off-season in which Darius Boyd announced he had never run faster, fans no doubt hoped the revitalised and fitter skipper would lead his young side from the front. Not so.
Defensively, Boyd has been poor. Falling for dummies against both the Storm and Dragons was bad enough, but to see him throw his arms in the air last Thursday night - looking to blame someone else when James Tedesco made him appear inept - was a disturbing reaction from the 296-game NRL veteran.
And whatever Anthony Milford is being paid - guess anywhere between $800,000 and $1million a season - he is not giving value for money.
His defence is deplorable and as a playmaker Milford simply isn't producing.
Then, there's Tevita Pangai Junior. Two weeks ago, after devouring the Cowboys, he was trumpeted as a $1million-a-season player.
I noted last Friday when speculating his worth, that same journo had already marked him down to $800,000. That, of course, is the issue for the modern-day player. Loyalty no longer exists and the almighty dollar is king.
Pangai says he doesn't read newspapers, watch TV or is on social media, so believing in his own publicity must not be an issue.
But while he serves his two-match suspension for a cowardly blindside of Cooper Cronk, he might do well to compare his performance against the Cowboys in round two with his other efforts this season.
As rejected Broncos coach Kevin Walters reminded us during last Thursday's debacle, the season is 29 weeks long, not four, so panicking now is unnecessary.
But it would be interesting to know whether Walters, if appointed, would have released Josh McGuire.