SEASON 2021: WHICH PLAYERS SHOULD THE BRONCOS RETAIN, RE-SIGN, MOVE ON AND RECRUIT

With the Broncos’ 2020 NRL campaign in the books, and the off season now upon the club, it’s an opportune time to examine the on-field production of each player in the senior squad, and the player market, in order to identify:

  • which of the Broncos’ off contract players the club should seek to re-sign; and
  • which off contract NRL players the Broncos should seek to recruit during the off season.

Methodology

In assessing the on-field production and the comparative ranking of each player which comprise the Broncos’ senior squad, each player from that squad has been allocated into one of four positional categories (with some players considered in multiple positional categories due to their notional versatility).

Those four positional categories consist of:

  • forwards;
  • centres and wingers;
  • halves and hooker; and
  • fullback.

Once categorised, each player’s output in defined key performance indicators (KPIs) for their respective positional category has then been considered, using data sourced from the NRL and QRL.

Different weightings were then assigned to the KPI data considered for each positional group based on the assumption that the cornerstone of the Broncos’ tactical approach is as follows:

  • To have minimal missed tackles (<2 missed tackles per player per game) in all positional categories.
  • To generate 100+ run metres and multiple offloads per game from each player in the forward positional group (to create second phase play for the halves, hooker and/or fullback to individually break the opposition’s defensive line or create line break opportunities for the centre and winger positional group).
  • To generate 100+ run metres and multiple line breaks per game from each player within the centre and wing positional group.
  • To generate 100+ kicking metres and multiple line breaks, line break assists, and forced drop outs per game from each player in the halves and hooker and fullback positional groups.

Once the relative on field productivity of the Broncos’ current senior squad was assessed, the comparative KPI data of non New South Wales born players, competing in the NRL, and who are not contracted to an NRL club for 2021 season, was then reviewed.

This was designed to restore the cultural identity of the Broncos and provide a realistic picture of the player market available to the Broncos.

The KPI data of the reviewed players was then contrasted against the KPI data of the players who currently comprise the Broncos’ senior squad, to identify prospective recruitment targets.

Note: * 2019 Intrust Super Cup data, **2019 NRL data

Player assessment and rankings

Starting with the forward positional group, and it was disappointing season for the vast majority of the Broncos’ forwards, with only Haas, Lodge and Fifita proving to be productive in terms of run metres and minimal missed tackles per game.

That said, the productivity level of all the Broncos’ forwards in terms of offloads per 40 minute performance was underwhelming (with the exception of Pangai Junior, and Kennedy).  As such, it was no surprise to see the Broncos’ halves, hooker and fullback options, consistently struggle, in the absence of regular second phase play, to individually break the opposition’s defensive line or create line break opportunities for the centre and winger positional group. It is a facet of the Broncos’ attack the forwards will need to substantially improve upon in season 2021.

While Haas, Fifita and Lodge showed plenty of promise in terms of their on-field productivity, and the likes of Pangai Junior, Kennedy, Carrigan, Oates, and Ofahengaue excelled in certain aspects but were underwhelming either defensively (Carrigan, Kennedy, Ofahengaue, and Pangai Junior) or in terms of run metres (Oates and Kennedy), Flegler, Te’o, Glenn, Hopoate consistently delivered unacceptable performances.

Given that, Hopoate, Te’o, Kennedy, Petterson-Robati off contract, Fifita having signed for the Gold Coast Titans, and there being no eligible and productive players on the NRL player market which the Broncos could pursue, it would be logical for the Broncos to expand their considerations to include the Intrust Super Cup and

  • retain Haas, Lodge, Pangai Junior, Riki, Carrigan, Oates, Ofahengaue, Flegler;
  • re-sign Petterson-Robati and Kennedy;
  • not re-sign Te’o and Hopoate;
  • attempt to move on Riki, Bullemor, Glenn and Palasia; and
  • recruit Page, Timm, Perrett, Shea, and Fai.

In terms of the club’s contracted centre and winger options, there were a number of players who could legitimately lay claim to having a productive season in 2020.  Those players who proved to be productive in terms of run metres gained per 40 minute performance, while also producing minimal missed tackles per game were Coates, Isaako and Farnworth.

That said, the productivity level of the majority of the Broncos’ centre and winger options in terms of line breaks per 40 minute performance was underwhelming.  While this could in part be attributed to the absence of regular second phase play resulting in the Broncos’ halves, hooker and fullback options, consistently struggling to create line break opportunities for the centre and winger positional group, it is a facet of the Broncos’ attack the centres and wingers will need to substantially improve upon in season 2021.

While a number of the Broncos’ centres and wingers showed plenty of promise in terms of their on field productivity, and Nui and Staggs excelled in terms of run metres but were underwhelming defensively, Kennar, Oates, Boyd, Arthurs, Glenn, and Kahu consistently delivered unacceptable performances.

Given that, Vudogo, Kennar, Kahu and Boyd all being off contract and there being a number of quality eligible centre and winger options on the NRL player market which the Broncos could realistically pursue, it would be logical for the Broncos to:

  • retain Coates, Nui, Isaako and Farnworth
  • re-sign Vudogo;
  • recruit Rapana and Moga;
  • not re-sign Kennar, Kahu or Boyd
  • attempt to move on Arthars.

With respect to Staggs and Bird, refer to the analysis regarding the Broncos’ fullback options.

In the halves and hooker positional group, on field production was an issue all season, with only Hetherington averaging a line break per 40 minute performance in his solitary Intrust Super Cup performance, and Dearden averaging a line break assist per match.

With the vast majority of the players in the positional group either inexperienced at NRL level (e.g. Gamble, Dearden, Paix, O’Sullivan, Turpin, Hetherington) or not possessing the creative passing game of traditional halves (e.g. Milford, Croft, Bird, Luke), the Broncos needed to generate a healthy number of offloads in each match to the create the second phase play and disorganisation in the opposition’s defence, and allow for simpler line break and line break assist opportunities for the club’s halves and hooking options.

As highlighted in the assessment of the Broncos’ forwards, the Broncos largely failed to generate the required offloads this season. As a consequence, the club’s halves and hooking options struggled to create. That said, the players who comprised the club’s halves and hooking options in 2020, did not help themselves as they failed to provide adequate support play for the club’s forwards.

While Dearden was solid, albeit slightly underwhelming, Croft, Turpin, Hetherington, Milford, Paix, Luke, and O’Sullivan consistently delivered unacceptable performances.

Given that, Hetherington, Luke and O’Sullivan being off contract, and there only being Benji Marshall and Tristan Sailor as eligible players on the NRL player market which the Broncos could pursue, it would be logical for the Broncos to expand their considerations to include the Intrust Super Cup and:

  • retain Dearden;
  • re-sign Gamble;
  • recruit Marshall, Ahern, Templeton, Rowe;
  • not re-sign Hetherington, Luke or O’Sullivan; and
  • attempt to move on Croft, Turpin, Paix and Milford.

With respect to Bird, refer to the analysis regarding the Broncos’ fullback options.

Regarding the club’s contracted fullback options, there is no player who could legitimately lay claim to having a complete performance record, in terms of regular line breaks, line break assists, run metres, kicking metres and forced drop outs.

That said, Coates, and Staggs were all productive in terms of run metres, and each player averaged at least one line break per 40 minute performance.

Outside of those three players, the remaining eligible players in the Broncos’ fullback positional category underwhelmed, with Paix, Turpin, Arthars, Oates, and Kennar particularly poor.

Given that, Dearden, Gamble, Marshall, Ahern, Templeton and Rowe are recommended as the club’s halves and hooking options, Coates, Nui, Vudogo, Rapana, Moga, Farnworth and Isaako are recommended as the club’s centre and wing options, and Kennar and Boyd are off-contract, it would be logical for the Broncos to retain Staggs and Bird as fullback options.

Line Up and Reserves

Freddie08

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