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The major flaw in Brisbane's forward roster

There is a six-year age gap in the Brisbane Broncos edge and middle forward stocks that looms as a major stumbling block to winning premierships in the short term.

It is not just a gap in age, but also experience and nous. It is also a gap the Broncos have imposed on themselves with recruitment decisions.

Three-time premiership winner Gorden Tallis made the point recently that the young Brisbane forwards are not yet capable of doing the job that they are being asked to do, and a look at the entire list reveals why.

The Broncos have assembled as impressive a suite of young forwards between the ages of 19 and 24 ever seen at the club.

David Fifita is the youngest at 19. Then comes Thomas Flegler (19), Payne Haas (20), Patrick Carrigan (21), Jaydn Su'A (21), Matt Lodge (23) Joe Ofahengaue (23), Tevita Pangai jnr (23) and Patrick Mago (24). Those nine have played 207 NRL games as a collective.

Every try from Round 4

After Mago, who has played just 10 NRL games and has been out of favour with coach Anthony Seibold in 2019, the next oldest middle or edge forward at the Broncos is Matt Gillett (30). Alex Glenn and Shaun Fensom are also 30, while Sam Tagataese is 32.

What the Broncos lack is forwards at the peak of their powers between the ages of 24 and 30.

Take a look at the Dragons. In the representative trio of Paul Vaughan (27), Tyson Frizell (27) and Tariq Sims (29) alone they have a trifecta of hardened professionals with 428 first grade games between them.  

The young Brisbane forwards will have targets on their heads ... On occasions, they will prevail and on others, they won't.

Last week the Broncos got outplayed by a Roosters pack whose forward leader was 27-year-old Siosiua Taukeiaho, a Tongan international with a premiership to his credit and in the form of his life.

Zane Tetevano, also 27, stepped up to start in the absence of Jared Waerea-Hargreaves to run for a barnstorming 171m.

Taukeiaho and Tetevano don't receive the headlines that Pangai does, but the Broncos could well do with a pair like them.

They run hard, tackle hard and do their job in a pack that has a mix of ages from the veteran Hargreaves right down to versatile pocket dynamo Victor Radley (21) and highly rated Lindsay Collins (22).

It is that mix that the Broncos lack and with Fensom and Tagataese unlikely to play much NRL unless there are injuries or suspensions, it means the Broncos will be relying a lot on nine forwards - most of whom have played less than 50 NRL games - to carry the burden.

Brisbane forward Joe Ofahengaue.
Brisbane forward Joe Ofahengaue. ©Scott Davis/NRL Photos

Brisbane's head of football Peter Nolan would rather have a list of players that are "too young" rather than "too old", and there is a view at the Broncos that taking the long-term view will pay dividends into the future. It is the old short-term pain for long-term gain philosophy.

It is worth remembering that the exit of 29-year-old Test lock Josh McGuire to the Cowboys was facilitated by the Broncos.

Brisbane also made a recruitment decision when 27-year-old Korbin Sims was not re-signed and left for the Dragons.

The situation the club is in is not due to events beyond their control, but because of their own choices.

The jury is out on whether those recruitment decisions will pay off.

Boom prop Haas is set to return against the Wests Tigers as the Broncos aim to ensure the next month of the 2019 season is not as dire as the first.

Annesley discusses key decisions from Round 4

Last year Haas attracted plenty of hype and as a result Dave Klemmer, then playing for Canterbury, lined him up and went straight at him. Haas was rocked by the collision and suffered a season-ending ankle injury as well.

There will be more of that to come. The young Brisbane forwards will have targets on their heads in the weeks ahead. On occasions, they will prevail and on others, they won't.

When Brisbane last won the premiership in 2006 they had a youthful Sam Thaiday, Ben Hannant and Corey Parker in the side. They also had Tonie Carroll, Brad Thorn and Petero Civoniceva at the peak of their powers and one of the game's great modern props in Shane Webcke.

The modern crop of young bucks does not have that luxury, and they won’t for several years to come unless the Broncos go hard in the recruitment market for a George Burgess or other seasoned forwards in the prime of their careers.

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