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Renouf: Broncos should always be strong, never rebuilding

The notion that the Brisbane Broncos were going to need a two- or three-year rebuild after Wayne Bennett was sacked is complete nonsense.

That is one of the reasons, or excuses, that the club has used to explain the poor performance of the team under Anthony Seibold, but it is time for some home truths and a history lesson.

The Broncos did not need to be rebuilt 18 months ago.

After the side were beaten by the Dragons in the 2018 finals series I rang Wayne Bennett and had a conversation about what we both believed was a promising future.

I told Bennett that I had a lot positivity about that group and he was adamant they would go further in 2019 and even challenge for a title because they had the right balance of youth and experienced players.

He was looking forward to coaching them but then his tenure finished and what he had created was torn apart.

Warriors v Broncos - Round 8

We shouldn’t forget that it was under Bennett that Payne Haas, Kotoni Staggs and David Fifita were nurtured and given their NRL debuts, and he was excited about developing them further.

He is arguably the best coach ever. He was a phenomenal success in his first stint at Brisbane during two decades. He did it at the Dragons and he came back to the Broncos to right the ship.

This is where it is ridiculous to say that the club needed a so-called rebuild because under Bennett the Broncos won 64 per cent of their games in his second stint, the same winning ratio he had prior to 2009. My question is: Why wasn’t that recognised?

Seibold came in and pretty soon the experience was ripped out of the club and the likes of Kodi Nikorima, James Roberts and company departed.

Seibold: No loss in belief

The Broncos hierarchy decided to bring in a coach coming off his rookie season to replace their six-time premiership-winning coach.

Now it is all starting to unravel. Their recruitment has been poor.

It is in a terrible state, and no one can dispute that as it is unfolding right in front of us. I believe it was a major mistake for Bennett to be replaced.

The Broncos have never been in a rebuilding phase any time in their history. What the club stands for was built from scratch in the years after 1988. Ever since it has been a club that replenishes, but never rebuilds.  

Supposedly the club has all the experts around the board to support them. Darren Lockyer is going to be consulted about how to fix the mess they are in now, but he has already been there for the last year and a half.

The Broncos have cleared the decks and removed most of their experienced players.

In my day I came through with guys like Andrew Gee, Mark Hohn and John Plath and the club brought in players that were older like Allan Langer, Dale Shearer and then Tony Currie after he won the 1988 grand final at Canterbury.

Kevin Walters was recruited after he won a premiership in Canberra and then Glenn Lazarus.

When a lot of us left in the late 1990s it was guys like Lockyer, Gorden Tallis, Shane Webcke and Petero Civoniceva who came to the fore.

It was seamless and it was planned. It was all so well done.

I don’t know why this current administration thought it was a good thing to have so many young players in the side.  Those kids can play in their own right.

Ever since it has been a club that replenishes, but never rebuilds.  

They will develop as good players but the way the recruitment has unfolded it could impact their careers detrimentally.

Some of the signings are just reactive. It doesn’t make sense to let Andrew McCullough leave when you have two inexperienced hookers. Then they sign Issac Luke.

Next year Darius Boyd will have retired while Luke and Ben Te’o are unlikely to be around.

It is inevitable that some of the Broncos' best young players, like David Fifita, will be head-hunted by other clubs.

Flair, finesse and freakish finishes

The Broncos will need to let some of their young guns go and they should be going hard for premiership-winning players from successful clubs, just like Bennett did with the likes of Lazarus, Walters and Currie.

It is a formula that has worked. That is the only way they are going to get back on track.

The path post-Bennett was always clear to me and I wrote about it in several of my NRL.com columns in 2018. When his original deal expired he should have handed over to Kevin Walters.

Walters has well and truly done his apprenticeship and understands the Broncos as well as anyone. It was always going to be time for a Walters to take over when Bennett left. It still is.

 

The views in this article do not necessarily express the opinions of the NRL, ARL Commission, NRL clubs or state associations.