Beauty in Broncos' bargain buys
The Broncos go into Friday night's qualifying final against the Roosters with Benji Marshall and Tautau Moga playing in key positions and I'm not sure any of us expected to say that this time 12 months ago.
Both came to the club seeking opportunity and have played integral roles in the Broncos finishing the regular season in third position and with a belief they can push for the club's seventh premiership.
Benji was brought to the club as an insurance policy for Anthony Milford and Ben Hunt and given the injuries the club has experienced throughout the year, being able to call on such a player as opposed to a rookie has enabled the team to maintain a settled feel about them and, most importantly, keep winning.
That's no more evident than this week where with Darius Boyd out injured Benji has been brought back in to play in the halves alongside 'Milf' and Kodi Nikorima has shifted to fullback. Rather than teammates being worried about whether a new half might be up to it, Benji's presence will probably give them an extra boost of confidence.
I thought the signing of Benji – particularly on the money he was reported to be getting – was a really good move by the club and I think after so many years in Sydney the change gave him a new lease of life.
We wondered how he would fit into the team and whether his style of play could work in the Broncos system but he has been fantastic for the club both on and off the field.
At certain stages this year the Broncos have been without 'Milf', 'Hunty', Andrew McCullough and Darius so having a player like Benji in your back pocket has been outstanding for us.
He came up here and showed that he wasn't afraid to go back to the Intrust Super Cup and work his way back into the NRL which is a testament to his character. It shows the younger guys that even when you're not in the top grade you need to playing consistent football because you never know when you're next chance is going to come.
While Benji came to the club with plenty of fanfare one guy who slipped into the Broncos largely unnoticed was Tautau Moga but given the number of games he has played I'd argue he has been Brisbane's buy of the season.
He is one of only three guys to have played every game for the club in 2017 and for him to come back from three knee reconstructions to be one of our best has been a wonderful story.
He's given great service to the Broncos this year and got his career back on track and while it's a shame to see him leave for Newcastle next year I think he's been one of our best players all season and will have a massive role to play in the finals.
Finals time is when us retired players start to get the itch again and I can't wait to see the best eight teams of the year doing battle this weekend. I'm tipping the Broncos to beat my other former club, the Roosters, on Friday night and the Storm and Manly to get the better of Parramatta and Penrith.
But if there's an upset to be had I think the Cowboys can bring Cronulla's premiership defence to an end on Sunday. The Sharks give you opportunities and have little lapses in games and even though the Cowboys have some injuries and might be a bit underdone if you give them too many opportunities there's enough class in that side to make you pay. I was up in Townsville last week and to see Jason Taumalolo running at the Broncos the way he did, if they get some good ball the Cowboys can definitely put some points on. I think they can do enough to take their season at least one week further.