The Broncos have today announced the following preliminary side to take on the Warriors in New Zealand.
Another underwhelming team selection from Bennett, which strengthens the view that Bennett’s thoughts on team selection are clouded by his personal relationships with certain players as opposed to the players’ recent on field performances.
Out the 16 contracted Broncos’ forwards in their top 30 playing squad, Gillett, Su’A, Glenn and Thaiday are currently ranked 12th, 13th, 14th and 15th, in terms of on field production, with Gillett and Glenn missing an average of 4 and 5 tackles per match, only Su’A averaging an offload per game and none of the four aforementioned players averaging more than 77m run metres. Compare that to the per game production so far this season in the Intrust Super Cup from the likes of Haas (125 run metres, 0 missed tackles and 1 offload), Tagatese (108 run metres, 1 missed tackle, 1 offload), Fai (104 run metres, 2 missed tackles and 1 offload) and Funaki (80 run metres per game, 2 missed tackles and 1 offload) and it’s clear Bennett not picking his 17 based on their on field performances.
Bennett’s comments before the Knights match that Thaiday would effectively continue to be selected in the 17 for the remainder of the season irrespective of his on field performances, clarified a long held suspicion that Bennett selects his team based on:
That’s not how to manage a professional rugby league side if they have aspiration of being successful on the field.
The uncomfortable truth for Bennett is that his preferred starting second row, in Gillett and Glenn, and prefers rotational forwards, Thaiday and Su’A, are consistently not producing in terms of run metres and offloads and are missing too many tackles. The failure of those players to consistently generate offloads, in particular, has significantly stifled the attacking effectiveness of Milford and Nikorima, who rely on second phase play and broken defensive lines to showcase their individual strengths (footwork and acceleration).
Objectively, Gillett, Glenn, Thaiday and Sua should have all missed selection for the match versus the Warriors, and I fear the Broncos will again suffer on the weekend as a consequence.
In relation to the centre and winger selection, while Bird (averaging 81 run metres, 0 line breaks and 2 missed tackles per match) and Roberts (averaging 73 run metres, 1 line break and 2 missed tackle per match) have been serviceable so far this season and youngest Jamayne Isaako (averaging 93 run metres, 0 line breaks and 1 missed tackle per match) has been solid, all three are being outperformed by a number of the their internal competition in the centre and winger positional group. This includes the highly impressive Marion Seve (who is averaging 152 run metres, 1 linebreak and 1 missed tackle per game for the Souths-Logan Magpies), Jonus Pearson (who is averaging 113 run metres, 1 line break and 2 missed tackles per game for the Redcliffe Dolphins) and Moses Pengai (who is averaging 109 run metres, 0 line breaks and 2 missed tackles per game for the Redcliffe Dolphins). Given the sheer productivity and consistency of productivity from the likes of Seve, Pearson and Moses Pengai, their continued exclusion by Bennett in favour of Bird and Roberts in particular is a baffling decision from the coach.
A similar argument can also be made for Sam Scarlett, who, despite playing exceptionally well in the halves for South-Logan in the Intrust Super Cup this season (averaging 0 line breaks, 1 line break assist, 2 missed tackles and 259 kicking metres per game), is once again overlooked in the halves, hooking or fullback role. This is despite Scarlett:
Scarlett’s exclusion from the top 17 is another perplexing decision by Bennett.
With the Warriors in excellent form and Bennett persisting with the same underperforming players in his 17 (despite having more productive players available for him to select), I’m expecting the Broncos to go down to the Warriors in New Zealand.