Are the Broncos the NRL's new 'easy beats'?
The Broncos are in the midst of their annual Origin pain but their problems could persist well beyond the three-match series if certain individuals don’t lift their defensive games.<br><br>Exclusive NRL.com statistics can reveal the Broncos have six players mired in the ‘top’ three spots per position when it comes to ineffective tackle percentages – much more than any other NRL team – and it has resulted in a return to basics at training this week.<br><br>After conceding 90 points in back-to-back losses over the Storm and Bulldogs, the Brisbane boys were forced back into defensive contact and wrestling drills early this week.<br><br>There have been some obvious excuses, like losing players to Origin and being locked down due to a swine flu scare, but the coaching staff are refusing to accept excuses despite the extenuating circumstances.<br><br>Fullback Karmichael Hunt, centre Justin Hodges, five-eighth Darren Lockyer, prop Dave Taylor and second-rowers Ashton Sims and Lagi Setu all have the unwanted tag of being in the top-three worst defenders in their positions, something they will need to change if the team is to return to the top four.<br><br>“Our defence over the last two weeks has been a real concern so it is a problem,” Broncos coach Ivan Henjak concedes. <br><br>“Our last two weeks have been horrendous and there was probably close to 100 missed tackles in those games which have probably contributed to the poor stats. <br><br>“If you take the last two weeks out of the equation we were sitting okay in terms of tries conceded but now we have nose dived down the list so we do need to get better.<br><br>“We’re hopefully addressing it at the moment. It helps to be able to train together so you can build confidence in the guys beside you and we’ve had some dramas with that over the past few weeks. It hasn’t been the simplest of times but it’s happened and we just need to deal with it and find a solution.”<br><br>Henjak hasn’t tried to make excuses for the individuals who are in the bottom three in their positions – although he does point out backs can be easily isolated and therefore defending can be more difficult.<br><br>While nobody expects players to be perfect defensively, there is a reasonable limit to the amount of missed tackles a first grade-standard player should be notching up on his personal stats sheet.<br><br>“Anything over 10 per cent is too much,” Henjak tells NRL.com.<br><br>“If you make 10 tackles in a game I wouldn’t expect there to be a miss. If you are making 20 tackles you may miss one, which can be acceptable, if you make 30 tackles maybe two or three misses is okay. So you’re looking at maybe somewhere between five and 10 per cent.”<br><br>The loss of several players at the end of 2008, particularly the defensively reliable David Stagg (Bulldogs) and Tonie Carroll (retirement), has been another huge factor in the sides defensive decline. The likes of Sims and Setu have failed to lift to the standards of those before them.<br><br>“Of course it has (been difficult to adjust to life without Stagg and Carroll),” Henjak admits. <br><br>“We lost eight players from our starting 17 from last year, that’s nearly half your team and we have new and younger players now. If you took Lockyer out of our team last week we would have only had 600 games experience, which makes it difficult to gel immediately.<br><br>“But we’ll continue to work hard and we’ll come out of it all okay.”<br><br>Last season’s premiers Manly, who started this year slowly but are in the midst of a mid-season revival, have the next amount of players amongst the list, with four individuals among the most <br><br>Michael Robertson, Steve Matai, Matt Orford and the newly acquired Ben Farrar won’t be happy to know they are among the worst in their respective positions.<br><br>The Warriors, Roosters, Titans, Rabbitohs and Knights provide two players each to the list, while the Cowboys, Eels, Bulldogs, Sharks, Wests Tigers, Dragons and Panthers supply one each.<br><br>Only the Raiders and Storm have managed to keep their players off the bottom three. <br><br><b>Top 3 Ineffective Tacklers </b>(by position, 6-game minimum)<br><b><br>Fullback: </b>Karmichael Hunt (Broncos) – ineffective 58%; Michael Robertson (Sea Eagles) – ineffective 44%; Matt Bowen (Cowboys) – ineffective 41%.<br><br><b>Wing: </b>Luke Burt (Eels) – ineffective 47%; Denan Kemp (Warriors) – ineffective 41%; Shaun Kenny-Dowell (Roosters) – ineffective 35%.<br><br><b>Centre:</b> Steve Matai (Sea Eagles) – ineffective 30%; Justin Hodges (Broncos) – ineffective 30%; Ben Farrar (Sea Eagles) – ineffective 23%.<br><br><b>Five-eighth: </b>Darren Lockyer (Broncos) – ineffective 29%; Joel Moon (Warriors) – ineffective 25%; Mat Rogers (Titans) – ineffective 23%.<br><br><b>Halfback:</b> Chris Sandow (Rabbitohs) – ineffective 33%; Matt Orford (Sea Eagles) – ineffective 28%; Scott Dureau (Knights) – ineffective 28%.<br><br><b>Prop:</b> Dave Taylor (Broncos) – ineffective 20%; Danny Wicks (Knights) – ineffective 17%; Michael Henderson (Titans) – ineffective 15%.<br><br><b>Hooker:</b> Issac Luke (Rabbitohs) – ineffective 18%; Michael Ennis (Bulldogs) – ineffective 17%; Terence Seu Seu (Sharks) – ineffective 16%.<br><br><b>Second row:</b> Daine Laurie (Wests Tigers) – ineffective 22%; Ashton Sims (Broncos) – ineffective 20%; Lagi Setu (Broncos) – ineffective 19%.<br><br><b>Lock:</b> Mitchell Aubusson (Roosters) – ineffective 23%; Neville Costigan (Dragons) – ineffective 16%; Luke Lewis (Panthers) – ineffective 16%.<br>