Gorden Tallis insists a finals appearance should be the bare minimum for Brisbane this season and he called on coach Anthony Seibold to get tougher on his under-performing squad.
Three-time premiership winner Tallis and Broncos captain Darius Boyd both spoke at Fox Sports launch of the NRL’s Magic Round this week where they were forthright about Brisbane’s below-par 2-6 start to 2019.
Tallis said the talent was there for Brisbane to still expect a top-eight finish.
"The benchmark is that they have got to play finals,” Tallis said.
“When I was there we expected to win grand finals but I have gone away from that because the competition is a lot tighter than what it was on the past, but they have certainly got to play finals.
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"Andrew Johns is a great judge, and Phil Gould, and they thought this side was going to win the competition. Their roster is good enough. They have got seven State of Origin players and internationals. When I played I think we might have had 10.”
Boyd was asked if Tallis’s call that the Broncos play finals football was a fair expectation.
"It is definitely a fair expectation. The Broncos have been based on premierships over a long period of time and it has been well-documented that we haven’t won one in a while," he said.
"We were a couple of seconds off one in 2015 and if that result was different there probably wouldn’t be the talk around the group.
“It is a really young group but we expect to be in a better position, and we should be. If we stick strong with this group and trust and believe in them I genuinely think in the next couple of years they can do some special things."
Tallis said Seibold needed to get tougher with his team and give them a bake in the public forum if they deserve it.
"If I was the coach now I would make them more accountable," Tallis said.
"They have got to watch what Craig Bellamy did [last week] after their second loss. He said, 'I'm going to make changes, make them accountable and find some new blood', instead of running out stats about being good at this and good at that.
"Instead of protecting the players, out them every now and then. A thing players don’t like, and I didn’t like it, is having your name in the papers when you’re not playing good, but that’s the way they have got to do it.”
Boyd disagreed with Tallis on that point and drew attention to the youth of the side.
"It is a really, really young group and life is hard enough without criticism and scrutiny," Boyd said.
"To play for the Broncos is a big thing and we understand that. There is a lot of pride and history in this club and that does come with expectations, but at the same time I don’t think that bashing the young ones in particular [with criticism] is going to help them play better.
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"It is a male-dominated sport and there has been a lot of talk about mental health over the years.
"No-one is going to change us except the playing roster and coaching staff."
Despite conceding Brisbane’s start to the season was "not good enough", Tallis did back Seibold and his players to turn their season around.
"I’d back them right now to play finals. You’ve just got to get a roll on and tough out a win," he said.
"Seibs is a good coach but he’s walked into a bit of a beehive I reckon. Following Wayne Bennett anywhere [is tough]. The great thing when you are coached by Wayne is you’ve only got to worry about your own form because he takes the other pressures off you.
"Seibs is probably a bit young and a bit naïve to do that yet."