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Thursday, March 15, 2018

Broncos forwards can learn plenty from 1990s 'pop-gun pack'

I keep hearing about how the Brisbane Broncos forwards aren't big enough, and that's true.

We don't have the presence and size of a Glenn Lazarus, Shane Webcke or a Petero Civoniceva, but that's not what was wrong with what the Broncos forwards dished up against the Dragons in round one.

Korbin Sims said it was an "un-Broncos-like" performance, and he was right.

They opened up. They were just poor, and it all comes down to attitude.

In 1992 and 1993 we had what people called 'the pop-gun pack' because our forwards weren't very big, but they dominated on the field.

We had little nuggets like Mark Hohn and Alan Cann. Trevor Gillmeister and Terry Matterson weren't big. Gavin Allen was tall, but he was a string bean. What they all shared in common was their attitude was second to none and they were all tough and proud.

On Fox Sports I watch old Broncos games and I am amazed by our forwards' work rate and their toughness.

They hunted as a pack and they carried on like that at training. They were a real pack. It was almost like them versus us backs. I didn't want to go and speak to those grumpy hardheads, but within the team there was a real appreciation for each other and we had fun.
I know the game is different now, but there is nothing out of date about attitude.
The Broncos forward need to hunt as a pack against the North Queensland Cowboys on Friday night in Brisbane and for the rest of the year. Possibly they have in the past, but they didn't show that last Thursday night.
Wayne Bennett has pulled the right rein by bringing Tevita Pangai jnr into the starting line-up. The kid is tough, he's a mobile and a real talent. That sends a message to the rest of the forwards.
Sam Thaiday is back to the bench and that is where he can provide some spark and leadership.
Matt Lodge is a big unit but he needs to put away his offloads and fancy long balls and just run hard.
Lazarus, believe it or not, had a great offload.
So did Civoniceva, but Wayne Bennett didn't want to see it. So guess what Petero did? He put his offloads away and went forward.
That is what Lodge needs to do.
The Broncos need Anthony Milford and Kodi Nikorima firing for the team to be operational, but those two need their pack to go forward.
In Bennett-coached teams he's historically let other staff take the backs but he takes the forwards and puts his stamp on how they play.
He did that with us in the 1990s and I've watched him do it with the sessions I've gone to, so when the forwards go out and play like they did against the Dragons he is going to be gutted.
It would be a good thing for Wayne to get on the phone to guys like Webcke, Andrew Gee, Matterson and Hohn and get them in to have a chat to the forwards about what it meant to them to play at the club.
They gave 100% every game. Those guys are old school, but they aren't too old school to be out of touch with the modern game.
At the Broncos in the past we would have a bad game and we'd cop plenty of flak in the media, but we were always taught that the way to shut people up was to come out the next week and do the opposite. It's not hard.
The guys at the Broncos now are playing in the Telstra Premiership for a reason, because they can all play rugby league. They need to take criticism on the chin and do something about it. If they do that, they'll hear is done and dusted now. Wayne will have them concentrating on getting it right this week. They can turn it around and I hope they do, but it all comes down to attitude.