The Broncos have announced the following preliminary side to take on Manly at Suncorp Stadium:
Same old same old from Bennett, who continues to marginalise those players from outside his favoured 17 man match day squad, who are excelling in the Intrust Super Cup, in preference of selecting persistently underperforming players such as Bird, Thaiday, Glenn, Su’A, Sims and Opacic.
In terms of the individual positional groups, starting with the halves, hooker and fullback contingent, Bennett has finally reacted to Bird’s persistent underperformance in the halves, by replacing the New South Welshman (who is averaging 0 line breaks, 0 line break assists, 3 missed tackles, 36 kicking metres and 0 forced drop outs per game) with the more penetrative and defensively secure Nikorima (who is averaging 1 line break, 0 line break assists, 2 missed tackles, 86 kicking metres and 0 forced drop outs per match).
While Bird’s removal from the starting halves, hooker and fullback contingent is a positive one for the Broncos, Boyd and McCullough somehow continue to be selected. This is despite:
In terms of Milford’s selection, while he continues failing to contribute this season in terms of per match line breaks (0) and line break assists (0), his defensive performances have been at an acceptable 2 missed tackles per game standard and he has been an excellent contributor in terms of kicking metres (averaging 290 kicking metres per game) and forced drop outs (1 per match).
While Milford’s and Nikorima’s relative contribution this season, in the key performance areas of line breaks, line breaks assists, missed tackles, kicking metres and forced drop outs, has been sufficient to justify their selection in the halves, hooker and fullback positional group, when you contrast the per game production of Scarlett (1 line break, 1 line break assist, 3 missed tackles, 227 kicking metres and 1 forced drop out for the Souths-Logan Magpies) and Dargan (0 line breaks, 1 line break assist, 2 missed tackles, 151 kicking metres and 1 forced drop out for the Norths Devils) to that of Boyd and McCullough, the latter’s selection seems an ongoing misjudgement from Bennett.
In terms of Bennett’s selections in the centre and winger positional group:
Given the per game contribution this season of Isaako, Roberts and Bird, in the key performance areas of run metres, line breaks, and missed tackles, and the comparative performances this season of Seve (who is averaging 149 run metres, 1 line break and 2 missed tackles per game for the Souths-Logan Magpies), Shibasaki (who is averaging 137 run metres, 1 line break and 2 missed tackles per game for the Norths Devils), and Pearson (who is averaging 118 run metres, 1 line break and 2 missed tackles per match for the Redcliffe Dolphins), Bennett’s selection of Isaako, Opacic and Roberts in the centre and winger positional group for the Manly clash, seems illogical.
Regarding the forward positional group, while McGuire remains 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 122 run metres, 2 missed tackles and 1 offload per game for the Broncos), Ofahengaue (who is averaging 102 run metres, 1 missed tackle and 0 offloads per game for the Broncos) and Pangai Jnr (who is averaging 96 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, Glenn and Thaiday are currently ranked 12th, 14th, 16th 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, Glenn and Thaiday, the relative per game production this season of the following players, indicate that they warrant selection ahead of that quartet:
As has been evidence in the Broncos’ performance in the opening 9 rounds of the NRL, there are clear and repeated failing in the side Bennett has selected (i.e. a lack of line breaks, line break assists and kicking metres from his chosen fullback (Boyd) and hooker (McCullough); a lack of run metres and/or line breaks amongst his chosen centres (Bird 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 that and Manly improved showing versus the Roosters in Round 8, I’m anticipating that the Broncos will suffer another loss.
The stats referenced in this post are sourced from the NRL and QRL.