Anthony Seibold’s tenure as the Broncos’ head coach will commence in 2019, after the club terminated the contract of incumbent coach Wayne Bennett, and secured the services of Seibold for 2019, following his immediate release by South Sydney.
The announcement made by the Broncos on 2 December, brings to an end a messy situation for the club.
Moving forward, Bennett’s departure and Seibold’s immediate arrival is a boost for the Broncos’ 2019 premiership hopes.
While Seibold was not my preferred option to replace Bennett (the Walker brothers), the now former South Sydney coach showed a lot of promise, tactically, in his first season in charge of the Rabbitohs, repeatedly stretching opposing defences horizontally through lateral ball movement, while also regularly using the powerful forwards at his disposal to progress the ball down field.
One of the biggest tactical challenges facing Seibold at the Broncos in 2019, is improving the productivity level of the Broncos’ forwards in terms of offloads.
With the vast majority of the players in the Broncos’ halves, hooker and fullback positional group not possessing the creative passing game of traditional halves, in order to generate line breaks through their slight of hand with the ball, but blessed with excellent footwork and acceleration, the Broncos need to generate a healthy number of offloads in each match to the create the second phase play and disorganisation in the opposition’s defence to allow the likes of Milford, Nikorima, Boyd, etc, to showcase their strengths and individually break the opposition’s defensive line or to create simpler line break assist opportunities.
In 2018, the Broncos forwards’ productivity in that facet of the game was unacceptably low, and it was no surprise to consequentially see the Broncos’ halves, hooker and fullback options, consistently struggle to individually break the opposition’s defensive line or create line break opportunities for the centre and wing positional group, in the absence of regular second phase play.
Another significant challenge facing Seibold, is whether he has the mental fortitude to base his team selection on players’ on field productivity, and not their level of experience or reputation. One of Bennett’s biggest failing as the Broncos’ head coach was repeatedly selecting consistently unproductive but well known players (e.g. Boyd, Roberts, Kahu, McCullough, Thaiday, Glenn, Sims), while players who proved either in the NRL or Intrust Super Cup to be more productive (e.g. Shibasaki, Dargan, Carrigan, Seve, Pearson, Fai) were consistently overlooked. Seibold’s willingness to hold players to account based on their on field productivity, will go a long way to determining whether the new coach can extract success from a playing group that is predominately the same as what Bennett had at his disposal in 2018.
Those challenges aside, a change was necessary for the Broncos, who initially improved under Bennett, following Anthony Griffins’ rein, but then stagnated and regressed, with repeated poor team selections and a stubborn persistence with a tactical approach that failed to accentuate the strengths of the Broncos’ key playmakers, ultimately bringing Bennett undone.
It will be interesting to see how Seibold goes.