Corey Oates says Darius Boyd is the right man to continue to captain the Broncos in 2020 and insists he should not be the fall guy for the side's semi-final capitulation to the Eels.
But if Boyd was to lose the captaincy, Oates says Anthony Milford is the leading candidate to replace him.
Since Brisbane's 58-0 finals loss to the Eels there has been speculation the club may make a change to the captaincy. The Broncos have not made any official statement on the leadership for next season. Boyd has been the captain of the club since 2017 and will remain in the role until further notice.
The 32-year-old was not at his best on the field in 2019 but handled himself with aplomb off it where he was always available to speak to media and take the heat for Brisbane's inconsistent performances.
It is Boyd's development as a statesman of the game off the field that has Oates convinced he is the man to continue in the role.
"He is still our best captain," Oates said.
"I don't think you can just blame one bloke for the season we had. He has got the 'c' next to his name and takes all that other pressure but it is a team sport and you have to play as a team.
"You can't blame Darius for how we played. He is the one that does all the stuff off the field and cops all the blows. I think he handles the press pretty well and he has a lot to prove this coming year. I still think he is a great captain."
Boyd and senior players such as Milford, Matt Lodge and Andrew McCullough will start returning to training in the coming week.
Oates said Milford would be his choice as skipper if Boyd was relieved of the role.
"I think Milf is a great candidate and if they were to take it off [Boyd] then he would be a great one to have the 'c' next to his name. On the field there are a lot of leaders and he is the bloke that overseas everything," Oates said.
"Off the field you have got to take all the hits. That would be the biggest challenge for Milf but I think he has grown a lot lately and handles himself a lot better off the field with all the media commitments. Having that 'c' next to your name puts a bit of pressure on you and makes you more accountable and [as captain] he could flick a switch and change a lot of stuff because he has to. It sort of makes you want to get better because you have to talk a lot more when you are captain."
The Broncos are expected to announce a two-year extension for veteran forward Alex Glenn in the coming days. Glenn captained the 2008 under 20s side and has led the Broncos in the past during the Origin period. He is another potential skipper.
"He is another leader. He is the bloke all the younger back-rowers look up to and go to for advice. We have got plenty of leaders in our team. It is about who can handle the 'c' next to their name the best and I still believe Darius is our best one," Oates said.
Prop forward Lodge has been spoken about as another candidate for the captaincy in the future. He is part of the leadership group at Brisbane and is looked up to by the young forwards in particular. Counting against Lodge is his past misdemeanours off the field. Oates said Lodge did not need the added pressure at this stage of his career.
"I agree with other people's reasons why [he shouldn't be captain for now]. I think just for himself also. You don't want people bringing up what's happened [in the past] when something goes wrong," Oates said.
"I am a firm believer in that but he is a leader in his own way in the forward pack. I don't think the 'c' next to his name is something he should be angry about not getting because he is a leader and will be a leader of our forward pack for God knows how long. We have a lot of leaders in a lot of different areas. If Lodgey was to get it then he'd still be a great captain. It is up to the board, but he will always be a leader. Milf will be a leader, but Darius is still a great candidate."