The Broncos have announced the following preliminary side to take on the Bulldogs at Suncorp Stadium:
More of the same from Bennett, who continues to select experienced but persistently underperforming players, rather than give opportunities to players from outside his favoured 17 man match day squad, who are excelling in the Intrust Super Cup.
In terms of the individual positional groups, starting with the halves, hooker and fullback contingent, Boyd and Bird continue to be selected despite:
As for McCullough’s selection at hooker, while he is solid defensively (missing only 1 tackle per match so far this season), his contribution in terms of per match line breaks (0), line break assists (0), kicking metres (53) and forced drop outs (0) has been very poor.
In terms of Milford’s selection, while he has failed to contribute this season in terms of per match line breaks (0) and line break assists (0), he has improved his defensive effort to an acceptable standard (2 missed tackles per game) and he has been a solid contributor in terms of kicking metres (averaging 273 kicking metres per game) and forced drop outs (1 per game).
While Milford’s contribution to the Broncos’ kicking game is sufficient to justify his selection in the halves, hooker and fullback positional group, when you contrast the per game production of Nikorima (1 line break, 0 line break assists, 2 missed tackles, 95 kicking metres and 0 forced drop outs), Dargan (0 line breaks, 0 line break assists, 2 missed tackles, 168 kicking metres and 2 forced drop outs for the Norths Devils) and Scarlett (1 line break, 1 line break assists, 3 missed tackles, 232 kicking metres and 1 forced drop out for the Souths-Logan Magpies) to that of Boyd, Bird and McCullough, the latter’s selection seems a gross oversight from Bennett.
In terms of Bennett’s selections in the centre and winger positional group, the selection of Oates (who is averaging 133 run metres, 1 line break and 1 missed tackle per match) is a simply one to make. In terms of Bennett’s other selections in the positional group, Isaako (85 run metres, 0 line breaks and 1 missed tackle per game), Roberts (72 run metres, 1 line break and 2 missed tackles per match) and Opacic (59 run metres, 0 line breaks and 1 missed tackle per game) have all demonstrated that they are defensively secure, but have been unable to sufficiently contribute to the Broncos’ run metres. Given that, and the comparative performances this season of Seve (who is averaging 146 run metres, 1 line break and 2 missed tackles per game for the Souths-Logan Magpies), Pearson (who is averaging 118 run metres, 1 line break and 2 missed tackles per match for the Redcliffe Dolphins) and Shibasaki (who is averaging 116 run metres, 1 line break and 2 missed tackles per game for the Norths Devils), Bennett’s repeated selection of Isaako, Opacic and Roberts in the centre and winger positional group, is questionable to say the least.
Regarding the forward positional group, while McGuire is unavailable through injury, Bennett’s selection of Haas (who is averaging 138 run metres, 0 missed tackles and 1 offload per match for the Wynnum Manly Sea Eagles), Lodge (who is averaging 115 run metres, 2 missed tackles and 1 offload per game for the Broncos), Ofahengaue (who is averaging 99 run metres, 1 missed tackle and 0 offloads per game for the Broncos) and Pangai Jnr (who is averaging 88 run metres, 1 missed tackle and 1 offload per game for the Broncos) is justifiable given their relative contribution in the key performance areas of run metres, missed tackles and offloads. That said, Bennett’s persistent selection of the underperforming Su’A, Sims, Thaiday and Glenn, remains perplexing.
Out of the contracted Broncos’ forwards, Su’A, Sims, Thaiday and Glenn are currently ranked 12th, 14th, 17th and 18th, in terms of on field production. Looking closer at the respective production level of each player:
In terms of potential alternatives Bennett could have, and arguably should have, selected ahead of Su’A, Sims, Thaiday and Glenn, the relative per game production this season of the following players, indicate that they warrant selection ahead of that quartet:
While there are glaring weaknesses in the side Bennett has selected (i.e. a lack of line breaks, line break assists and kicking metres from his chosen fullback (Boyd), halfback (Bird) and hooker (McCullough); a lack of run metres and/or line breaks amongst his chosen centres (Opacic and Roberts) and one of the wingers (Isaako); a lack of run metres or offloads or too many missed tackles in the chosen second row (Su’A and Glenn); and a lack of run metres and offloads from one of the starting props (Thaiday) and a bench forward (Sims)), given the Bulldogs’ woeful start to the season, I’m anticipating that the Broncos will eek out a close victory.
The stats referenced in this post are sourced from the NRL and QRL.