Broncos chasing 'huge' defensive improvements
Brisbane Broncos were the fourth-best defensive team in the NRL in 2017 but assistant coach Jason Demetriou insists they can be far better.
Their potential to improve even more is just one of the reasons why he was happy to take the reins of the team's defence after running the attack in 2017.
News Corp reported coach Wayne Bennett has allowed his assistants Demetriou and Kevin Walters to work out between themselves who would be running the attacking and defensive side of things in 2018.
Walters helped unlock the attacking capabilities of Ben Hunt and Anthony Milford in 2015 when Brisbane reached the grand final and as a player was a maestro in setting Broncos outside backs free with his craft and guile.
The Broncos were the second-best attacking side in the points scored department in 2017 and Demetriou played a key role in that result.
But he said that coaching staff, like playing squads, were part of a team and it made sense to play to the club's strengths.
"I was keen to do the attack, but that is obviously Kevvie's strength and what he brings to the table," Demetriou told NRL.com.
"So I am really comfortable coaching defence and excited to have the opportunity to do it.
"With Kevvie working with the halves and the attack, I think there is a bit of a cross-over there, so we will be better off as a team sticking to our strengths."
Brisbane's premiership-winning sides have been more than handy attacking units but what is often overlooked is their defensive clout.
Peter Ryan was the defensive coach in 2006 when Brisbane bashed Melbourne in the grand final after keeping two clean sheets in the lead-up to the finals. The 2000 premiership-winning side conceded 388 points in a 26-round season and was regarded as one of the club's best defensive teams in the NRL era.
The Broncos conceded 433 points last season and even though it was a solid effort, it was a long way adrift of the 336 conceded by premiers Melbourne.
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"Defensively I think we can make huge improvements which is something I am also excited about," Demetriou said.
"I know there are things that, if we get them right at this time of year, we will improve on.
"We have some young guys that are going to play more minutes and with Blairy [Adam Blair] going, we are going to lose some experience in the middle third.
"That is a good challenge for us to get it right, and if we do get it right Kevvie will get the fruits of that with his attack."
Demetriou is regarded in league circles as a head coach of the future and narrowly missed out to Garth Brennan for the Gold Coast Titans top job.
"I have aspirations to be a head coach and I see myself as a holistic coach," he said.
"I will bring the same approach to defence in terms of professionalism and effort as I did with our attack."