TK's take on the Brisbane Broncos:
STRENGTHS New coach in Kevin Walters who is through and through a Bronco. Anthony Seibold is a good coach but just didn't fit the culture of the Broncos. I think he was made the scapegoat for some really poor performances by his players but still a big money coach has to perform.
Forward depth - even losing the best young forward in the game in David Fifita, the Broncos still have a fearful pack. Getting Tavita Pangai Jnr to fire every week will be the key to teams success. Payne Haas and Patrick Carrigan will continue to be fantasy stars while the one to watch is Jordan Riki who is not only a physical specism but had two games to finish the season that indicates that if given a start will be one of the stars in 2021.
WEAKNESSES Strike out wide. The serious ACL injury to Kotoni Staggs who was their most destructive back this year leaves a gapping hole in the centres. Staggs at best case scenario will be back by mid year. In his absence, the number 3 jersey will most likely go to Dale Copley who isn't a noted strike weapon. An outside choice may be someone like Jesse Arthurs but Walters might not be keen to go with an inexperienced centre pairing given one of the centres is likely to be Herbie Farnworth.
Consistency at fullback - A disasterous position for the club that started with Jack Bird and went through Issako, Niu and finished with Darius Boyd. Great Potential in Issako and Niu who will go head to head to fill the position and could be a POD for fantasy coaches. From recent interviews with Walters, Milford is not going to be considered for the number one jersey.
Leadership - the departure of Matt Gillett and Andrew McCullough left a huge role which was never filled and no doubt created culture issues particularly when they fell into a losing hole. McCullough is back but will be unlikely for round 1 given the severity of his injury. Who is captain then? Will it be Milford or a second year player like Carrigan or will Glenn be retained? No doubt the addition of older players like Mead, Copley, Kelly and Asiata was too help complement the younger players coming through.
OPPORTUNITIES Halves - One of the big questions is if Walters can return Milford to the elite level. 2015 and Walters had a huge influence on Milford and the club made the grand final. It's the make or break of the Broncos season. Tom Deardon was a great pick up for fantasy coaches in 2020 and should continue to score well in 2021 as he improves in areas such as kick metres and reduces his mis tackles per game as he becomes more physically ready for the week in and week out grind of the NRL.
Forwards - Players who had down seasons due to injury like Matt Lodge and Tom Flegler should start at good fantasy value. A turnaround in fortunes should see some good production if either can string consistent 40-50 minute games each week. TPJ also owes his club a huge season for the distraction of his off field behaviour this year.
VERDICT - Miss the finals but will be better performed than expectation. I see a finish of 9th-12th but the club won't cop another wooden spoon. It's a year for their coach Kevin Walters to instil passion back into the jersey and get them competing hard on a weekly basis. If Walters can get the best Milford to anywhere near his best, the Broncos can push hard, just remember the Panthers didn't get anywhere near the top 8 in 2019 to then set a winning streak record as one of the great teams during 2020. Things can change quickly in rugby league.
How do you see the Broncos fairing in 2021?