The Broncos have announced the following preliminary side to take on the Storm at Suncorp Stadium.
While it is understandable that Bennett would want to reward the same players who got the Broncos the victory in New Zealand, with repeat selection for the clash versus the Storm, a number of the players selected in Bennett’s preliminary 17 can count themselves very lucky not to be plying their trade in the Intrust Super Cup this weekend.
In terms of the individual positional groups, starting with the halves, hooker and fullback contingent, while Boyd (who is averaging 1 line break assist (lba), 2 missed tackles (mt) and 8 kicking metres (km) per match) and Milford (who is averaging 1 line break (lb), 2mts and 265kms per game) warrant selection in two of those four roles, Bird and McCullough are yet to record a line break or line break assist per match so far this season and have failed to meaningfully contribute to the Broncos’ kicking game. Given the comparative performances of Dargan (who is averaging 1lba, 0lb, 1mt and 134kms per match for the Norths Devils) and Scarlett (who is averaging 1lba, 1lb, 2mt and 269kms per match for the Souths-Logan Magpies), Bird and McCullough’s continued selection is baffling.
In the centre and winger positional group, while the selection of Oates (who is averaging 125 run metres (rm), 1lb and 0mts per game) was a no brainer and Isaako (96rms, 0lb and 1mt per game), Roberts (78rms, 1lb and 2mts per game) and Opacic (60rms, 0lb and 1mt per game) have all demonstrated that they are defensively secure, the performances of Seve (who is averaging 157rms, 1lb and 1mt per game for the Souths-Logan Magpies) and Pearson (who is averaging 113rms, 1lb and 2mts per game for the Redcliffe Dolphins) indicates that those two players deserve to be selected ahead of Roberts and Opacic for the Storm clash.
In the forward positional group, out of the contracted Broncos’ forwards, Su’A, Sims, Thaiday and Glenn are currently ranked 14th, 15th, 18th and 20th, in terms of on field production, with:
Compare that to the per game production so far this season in the Intrust Super Cup from the likes of Haas (136rms, 0mts and 1 offload), Tagatese (117rms, 1mt, 1 offload), Fai (114rms, 2mts and 1 offload) and Carrigan (111rms per game, 2mt and 1 offload) and Bennett’s selection of Su’A, Sims, Thaiday and Glenn is questionable to say the least.
A special comment also needs to be made regarding Nikorima’s selection in the bench utility role. The brutal reality is Nikorima’s diminutive size, coupled with his poor defensive capabilities (missing an average of 3mts per much so far this season), makes him illsuited to any position which requires him to defend in the Broncos defensive line. That being the case, how Nikorima could possibly be considered an effective utility player (who is able to fill-in in the halves, the hooking role, in the centres or on the wing), when fullback is the only position Nikorima’s physical attributes and playing tendencies indicate he is capable of playing (without his weaknesses being seriously exposed), is beyond me. A more defensive player with some line breaking and ball skills, such as Allan, Isaako or Bird, seems a much more logical choice for the bench utility role.
Given the weaknesses in the side Bennett has selected (i.e. a lack of line breaks and line break assists in their five-eighth and hooker, a lack of run metres and line breaks amongst their centres and wingers and a lack of run metres and offloads in the chosen second row and bench forwards (exluding Ofahengaue)), I’m anticipating that the Broncos will suffer another loss against a resurgent Storm side.
The stats referenced in this post are sourced from the NRL and QRL.