Brisbane Broncos issues go deeper than playing talent

A year ago league Immortal Andrew Johns tipped the Broncos, on the strength of their roster, to win the premiership. Now they’re in the most troubled state of their history. And the answer why is worrying, PAUL KENT writes.

The answer is somewhere in the pauses, in the small jump from a sentence beginning and its redirection, between what is intended and what is said.

Do the Broncos know the difference? Do they know what gets left unsaid, the thoughts that might be the direction they must head?

It happened after the Broncos got beaten by Gold Coast, well after the players got booed off at half-time and had surrendered a game losing deficit by the half-time break.

Coach Anthony Seibold was asked about his job safety, the killer blow at a press conference for a coach under pressure.

Seibold was already having an uncomfortable time of it.

“To be fair, I haven’t thought about that …” he paused, “I’m trying to stay in the present …” he paused again.

“I’ve got a five-year deal here …” and he paused again, and by now you could almost see the gears spinning in his head.

“I think I am the right person to try and bring this group through but, um … you know, if the board thinks otherwise or, um … Paul White the CEO thinks otherwise they’ll tell me …”

What was happening in the pauses? What scenarios were flooding Seibold’s thoughts?

There is what he knows, and what he wants to say, and what he knows his players will read and see in the news clips, and what the board will interpret those comments to mean, and reminders that he needs to be positive, and also that he needs to appear to still be in control, and …

Or was he simply confused?

Is Seibold in denial or, let’s pause again, merely protecting his thoughts …?

There is danger in the pauses for the Broncos. The danger is that with a rookie coach and an administration that has not been around long enough to be involved in one of the club’s six premierships they do not really know what a premiership-winning organisation looks like.

So do they know the road back? Or are the Broncos simply fumbling for answers, deflecting from their lack of knowing with abstract answers that, really, reveal nothing.

What is concrete and solid is that it has been 15 seasons since the Broncos won a premiership. The club has gone close since then but … was that merely the magic of Old Man Time, Wayne Bennett?

The club is in its most troubled state since entering the competition in 1988.

The Broncos have hit rock bottom — do they know the way back to the top? Picture: Darren England/AAP
The Broncos have hit rock bottom — do they know the way back to the top?

While some will argue Seibold is only two years into his five-year stint it is also fair to say that nobody thought the club was in need of a rebuild yet, with each failing, the club speaks more openly about the rebuild as if it is an accepted truth.

Is that a club that knows where it is? Or deflecting from the poor job done?

Just a year ago league Immortal Andrew Johns tipped the Broncos, based on the strength of their roster, to win the premiership.

The one question every Broncos fan wants answered is still flying in the breeze, though, in the pause, the space between knowledge and wisdom …

Do the Broncos know what needs to be done to turn around their fortunes?

Is this talk of a rebuild, recently promoted, merely a throw-off to cover how they have lost their way?

The Broncos are all about questions at the moment.

There is very little certainty in the form of answers.

But where do the Broncos turn?

Anthony Seibold is two years into his five-year contract at the Broncos. Picture: Steve Pohlner
Anthony Seibold is two years into his five-year contract at the Broncos.

Chairman Karl Morris is a sharp operator but is from outside the game. He has little industry knowledge.

This is irrelevant to all except those who know. Sometimes, in the poisoned politics of the NRL, it is important to know who comes with good intentions.

Board member Darren Lockyer has been asked to assist with leadership at the club and is another Seibold seems to be leaning on. It is ridiculous to question Lockyer’s footy intellect but, at the same time, Lockyer is not immersed in the game. Again, sometimes it pays to know where the advice is coming from.

Chief executive Paul White is an old country cop but, like the others, has not overseen the build of a premiership roster.

Building premiership-calibre squads is not an exact science. It is the difference between theory and practice, wisdom and knowledge …

That is what the Broncos are chancing, the faith they are asking a suspicious public to show.

A public that knows that, sometimes, what is not said is that long-term plans are merely inventions when short-term plans are failing.

And their answer to it all is, seriously, to be now considering bringing in Steve Kearney to help.

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