Five things Seibold must do to save Broncos
Broncos coach Anthony Seibold faces some critical decisions over summer that could make or break his tenure at Red Hill. Here are the five decisive moves Seibold must make to put the Broncos back on the path to premiership success.
1. MILF'S SIX APPEAL
ANTHONY Milford must go back to five-eighth and stay there for life.
Seibold's decision to embark on the Big Switch between Milford and Darius Boyd mid-season was the most compelling example of weakening one position to strengthen another. Milford at five-eighth has never been Brisbane's true problem. It has been the club's inability to supply a dominant game-manager at halfback to steer the ship and unshackle Milford to be Brisbane's instinctive matchwinner.
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Milford was the best player on the park in the 2015 grand final playing at five-eighth. Since then, his short and long-range tactical kicking has improved out of the sight to the point where Milford was in the NRL's top three kickers for metres gained this season with 8730m. His boot amassed more metres than Mitchell Pearce, Daly Cherry-Evans, Cooper Cronk and Ben Hunt. Milford did a serviceable job in the No.1 jumper but fullback is now a young man's position where the aerobic demands are enormous. On Brisbane's current roster, Milford is the best six Seibold has got.
2. COACHING SUPPORT
SEIBOLD can benefit from a shake-up to his assistants and bolstering the football and tactical IQ of his support staff.
Cowboys coach Paul Green has worked with highly-credentialed assistants such as David Furner, Jason Demetriou and John Cartwright. At the Roosters, Trent Robinson has used Jason Taylor and Craig Fitzgibbon. Wayne Bennett's right-hand man at Red Hill in the late 1990s was Craig Bellamy, who became Melbourne's super coach. At the Storm, Bellamy has had trusted deputies in Adam O'Brien, Kevin Walters and Seibold himself.
Seibold's current assistants are Peter Gentle and Ben Cross. Gentle has decades of support experience, while Cross won a premiership as a front-rower at the Storm in 2007. But sometimes new voices can provide fresh ideas. Bennett sacked his support staff at the Broncos in 2005 and won the premiership the following year. Seibold should consider premiership-winning former Sharks coach Shane Flanagan, who has had his ban lifted by the NRL clearing him to work as an assistant.
3. SIGN JWH
THE Broncos must go hard for Jared Waerea-Hargreaves.
Brisbane's young forwards are mighty talents but they need a top dog leading the way and JWH is that man. The Roosters enforcer is off-contract next year, giving the Broncos the opportunity to formally approach him from November 1. Waerea-Hargreaves turns 31 this January and could easily play NRL for another two years, which would be invaluable time to develop the likes of Payne Haas, Matt Lodge and David Fifita. There are very few players in today's game who possess a genuine fear factor. JWH has the hard edge and mental toughness Adam Blair provided when the Broncos made the 2015 grand final.
4. DON'T PANIC
SEIBOLD would be making a mistake sacking Darius Boyd as captain. The best leaders possess premiership-winning know-how and there are just two players on Brisbane's current roster who have a title on their resume. One is Jack Bird, who may not be at the club next season. The other is Boyd. The 32-year-old didn't have his best season form wise but such is Brisbane's leadership void, Boyd remains their best captaincy option. Brisbane's captain must understand the ambassadorial demands with sponsors and corporates and being on-message with club powerbrokers. Boyd has developed into a well-spoken statesman. The likes of Matt Lodge of Matt Gillett are not ready for such a role.
5. HALF THE BATTLE
SEIBOLD must sign two halfbacks to give 18-year-old Tom Dearden time to develop into an elite shot-caller. Chad Townsend is off-contract next year and has premiership pedigree after steering Cronulla to the 2016 title. He not only kicks goals but is the non-flashy, composed level-headed halfback who would complement the class and dynamism of Milford. Ryley Jacks is currently a free agent and should be signed to a basic $100,000 deal to give the Broncos more depth on their roster. Jacks has a left-foot kicking game and is solid in defence. He would not be the first-choice halfback but in a long and gruelling season every club needs a playmaking safety net. It's unrealistic to expect Dearden to play 24 games as a teenager, especially after undergoing ankle surgery this season.