The Broncos have today announced the following preliminary side to take on the Knights in Newcaste.
Like Bennett’s team selection for the Titans match, I’m really disappointed Bennett didn’t elect to drop Gillett, Glenn, Thaiday and Sua to the Intrust Super Cup for the match versus the Knights. All four players have failed to meaningfully contribute to the Broncos’ run meters in the opening four rounds (Glenn – 70m per game (pg), Gillett – 78m pg, Thaiday – 49m pg, Sua – 38m pg). Glenn, Gillett and Thaiday have also failed to generate any offloads in the opening four rounds, which has significantly stifled the attacking effectiveness of Milford and Nikorima in particular, who rely on second phase play and broken defensive lines to showcase their individual strengths (footwork and acceleration). On top of this, Glenn and Gillet have also collectively missed an average of 9 tackles per match so far, which makes their continued selection somewhat baffling.
Given the respective performance levels of those 4 players and that of Fai (105m pg, 2 missed tackles pg and 1 offload pg), Tagatese (103m pg, 2 missed tackles pg and 1 offload pg), Haas (125m pg, 2 missed tackles pg and 1 offload pg) and Funaki (80m pg, 2 missed tackles pg and 1 offload pg) in the Intrust Super Cup, Gillett, Glenn, Thaiday and Sua should have, objectively, all missed selection for the match versus the Knights.
The same goes for Bird, Roberts and Opacic who have all struggled in recent weeks to generate meaningful run metres and line breaks (lb) in the centre positions (Bird – 82m and 0 lb, Roberts – 62m and 0 lb, Opacic – 53m and 0 lb). Contrast their performances with that of the highly impressive Seve (145m pg and 1 lb) and Isaako (99m pg and 0 lb) and there are justifiable reasons Seve and Isaako should be starting in the Broncos’ centre positions, ahead of the likes of Bird, Roberts and Opacic for the match versus the Knights.
Based on his output, Nikorima place in the halves should also be in question, with Sam Scarlett playing exceptionally well for South-Logan. That said, it is hard to be too critical of Nikorima’s performances when the Broncos’ forwards, in particular, are not playing to Nikorima’s strengths by regularly offloading the ball and allowing him to showcase his acceleration and footwork.
The problem is Bennett does not appear to be selecting his match day squads based on their on-field production levels, but rather he appears to select his top 17 based on his personal relationships with the players. That’s a recipe for disaster and is translating into poor on field performances by the Broncos. Like the match versus the Titans, the clash versus the Knighta could be a lot closer than most are predicting.