Andrew McCullough says he deserves the criticism he has received after the 58-0 finals loss to the Eels and admits he should have shown more leadership the night before the game when players were seen at a Sydney hotel playing poker machines.
McCullough spoke to Brisbane radio station HIT 105 on Wednesday morning before heading to Broncos HQ to attend player review sessions with coach Anthony Seibold.
The veteran hooker was one of six Broncos that attended a hotel the night before the Eels loss. McCullough said he had gone out to get a Maxibon ice cream and had popped in to the venue for a short while.
David Fifita and Anthony Milford were playing the poker machines and after news about the visit broke, the Broncos put out at statement which said the players "should have been more professional".
McCullough said no players were drinking and no curfew had been broken but conceded he would have done things differently, in hindsight.
"Being in that position to begin with is not a good look … especially young guys being there. A few of us older guys going there for a little bit is still not a good look and I totally accept if no one is happy with that situation," McCullough said.
"You’ve got to be smarter with the decisions of putting yourself in those situations, regardless. If we had won, we wouldn’t be talking about it but since that wasn’t the case there may be an issue there.
"Right across the board, myself and a couple of older boys saw a few blokes going there and maybe should have said ‘you should be doing something else’.
"I didn’t think to say that but I should have. There’s some tough lessons for myself and some of the older boys."
McCullough has copped plenty of criticism, along with the other members of the team's spine, this year. On Monday he was at Broncos headquarters wearing a T-shirt that said "You get what you get and you don’t get upset" which suggested that he was prepared to cop whatever flak that came his way.
"I certainly deserve plenty of criticism my way, which is certainly fair,” McCullough said when asked about his T-shirt.
The veteran hooker is contracted until the end of 2020 and has an option in his favour for 2021. What his future in the Broncos top squad is beyond this season is yet to be determined but McCullough said he was realistic enough to know there would be some tough conversations in Seibold’s reviews.
"We’ll find out today. We’re reviewing everything. Speculation and rumours always comes after a heavy loss. Being an older player within that team, that’s just the way it is," he said.
"I’m not blind to the fact that things may need to happen. The reality is, we didn’t perform well and things start to speculate when overall the team’s performance isn’t up to scratch."
The Broncos are in the process of conducting a top to bottom review of all their operations and on Friday coach Seibold and football operations chief Peter Nolan will make a presentation to the board about the club’s road forward after their biggest loss in history.
A revamp of the playing roster, and how to achieve it, will be on the agenda.
McCullough said the expectation of success that is part of Broncos DNA was something he welcomed. That expectation in the wider community was reflected at Broncos headquarters at Red Hill on Wednesday morning when there were more journalists and camera crew on hand than at any time this year, despite the club now being knocked out of the finals race.
Cameras were trained on the Broncos players as they arrived for their reviews. That scrutiny will only continue in the weeks ahead.
"I like that expectation on the club. That’s something every organisation tries to have and some teams have been doing that really well over a long period of time,” McCullough said.
"You look at our resources that we have and there’s no excuses.
"We’re very spoiled here at the club and we didn’t perform and didn’t stand up when it mattered. Criticism right across the board is certainly part of it and deservingly so, in some regards. That’s reality."