Renouf: Broncos can’t win premiership
Brisbane premiership greats believe the Broncos are underachieving under Anthony Seibold and must find long-term solutions to their playmaking spine for the club to re-emerge as a title force.
The Courier-Mail has canvassed the opinion of the club's finest servants to appraise the state of the Broncos ahead of Friday night's grudge match against Wayne Bennett's South Sydney at Suncorp Stadium.
Backline legends Steve Renouf and Willie Carne understand the price of success, winning four and two premierships respectively during Brisbane's six-title haul in their golden age from 1992-2006.
While impressed with Brisbane's late-season fightback, Renouf is not convinced Seibold's troops are the real deal this season, while Carne expressed concerns about the methodology behind Darius Boyd's shift from fullback to five-eighth.
"The Broncos are underachieving," said Carne, the 134-game servant who won back-to-back premierships in 1992-93.
"It's been 13 years since the club won a title. This squad aren't quite where they should be, but if they make the finals, anything is possible I guess."
THE Broncos have scored 65 tries this season, ranking them in the bottom half of the league in 10th spot.
Keen to spark his offence, Seibold made a drastic tactical change eight weeks ago, moving skipper Darius Boyd to five-eighth and shifting Anthony Milford to fullback.
For most of the year, Brisbane's attack has looked clunky, a situation not helped by Kodi Nikorima's mid-season move to the Warriors and an injury to boom halfback Tom Dearden.
"It would be fair to say Brisbane have been good, not great," said Renouf, Brisbane's greatest tryscorer with 142 from 183 games.
"Kotoni Staggs has been a revelation at centre, I love the way he backs himself, but their spine is just going OK.
"Darius Boyd is not as quick on the ball as he used to be, but that is balanced by Milford's good form at fullback.
"To be honest, I wouldn't have let Kodi Nikorima leave this season. His loss has really affected their spine."
BRISBANE have leaked 421 points this season at an average of 20 per game.
Compare that to ladder leaders the Storm, who have conceded just 270 at a miserly mark of 12 per match.
Their defensive line was carved-up in a 40-4 loss to the Storm in round 20, but since that drubbing the Broncos have tightened up.
They missed just 10 tackles the following week against the Cowboys and their tryline defence against Penrith last week was finals quality.
"Their attack has been a little bit better than their defence," Renouf said.
"They were carved up against the Storm and that's something they need to address to challenge the big guns.
"In recent weeks, they've had more continuity with their team and that has helped their defensive structures. Matt Gillett and Alex Glenn returning this week from injury will help their defensive reads."
THE Broncos have come under fire for handing Seibold a massive five-year deal. No rookie coach in the code's history has received such long-term security.
Seibold has implemented a more technical style on offence and doesn't tolerate lazy players.
A key plank of his coaching philosophy is effort-based play. While he has his critics, Seibold has done a fine job blooding seven players this season, including Tom Flegler, Dearden, Pat Carrigan and Xavier Coates.
"Is Seibold the right coach for the club? I can't quite answer that one yet," Carne said.
"But he deserves credit for the amount of kids he has debuted this season. The young blokes have definitely improved at the back end of the season which comes with experience and exposure to pressure situations.
"Wayne Bennett always had a great saying when I played under him … "when we win, they thank God, we when lose, they blame me". It's so true.
"The players are the ones that shape the success of the club. The Broncos have given Seibold a long-term deal, so I guess they are prepared to be patient for him to deliver a premiership."
RENOUF and Carne believe Boyd's move to five-eighth at age 32 is a Band-Aid solution.
"I'm not sure about the Darius five-eighth experiment," Carne said.
"I don't see where it is going. He is at the back end of his career, so he's not a long-term option. He won't be playing five-eighth for the next four or five years.
"I think Anthony Milford has to go back to five-eighth, he is the best backline player at the club in my eyes."
Renouf added: "It's obvious Darius is not a long-term solution. Maybe the Broncos need to go to the market again and chase an experienced playmaker to guide the young blokes through."
Milford, not one to rock the boat, insists he is happy to play either fullback or five-eighth.
"That's out of my control. I just need to focus on myself and do my part for the team," he said.
"I don't mind, I'll play wherever. I started there (at fullback) at the Raiders and just took it with two hands."
BRISBANE have the best batch of young forwards in the code, headlined by Payne Haas, David Fifita and Matt Lodge.
But Renouf says the key to breaking the club's 13-year premiership drought is preventing their roster being ripped apart from poaching raids.
"To be honest, I don't think the Broncos can threaten for the premiership this year," he said. "Most people would say that. I hope they prove me wrong, but it's a stretch to say they can win the title.
"They will talk it up and that's fine, they have to be positive, but the reality is they aren't in the same league as Melbourne and the Roosters. They should be happy making the top eight after the start they've had.
"They have to get their spine right, simple as that. They need to sort out long-term options at five-eighth and fullback.
"Milford can play both and they have young Dearden coming through at halfback. I'm not sure which position Milford prefers but the Broncos need to get their scrumbase right to be a contender."
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