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What went wrong and why Seibold had to leave Broncos

Anthony Seibold arrived at the Broncos with the expectation that he would lead an incredibly talented squad to the Promised Land but instead took them to a desolate wasteland.

His exit, less than two years into a five-year tenure, was necessary and inevitable given what has transpired at the club since his arrival.

In 40 games at the helm of the Broncos his win ratio of 35 per cent (which includes the two most recent losses where he was in isolation) is simply not acceptable at such a powerhouse club. Compare that to Wayne Bennett (64 per cent), Anthony Griffin (53.5 per cent) and Ivan Henjak (52.9 per cent) – all of whom were sacked – and it becomes clear that Seibold's numbers just didn't stack up in what is a results-based business.

It is extraordinary that a coaching tenure that was announced with such fanfare, and on the back of Seibold winning the Dally M coach of the year award at South Sydney in 2018, could end in such a pall of gloom.

How did it get to this? There are several reasons but one is simply that the players did not embrace and were not enable to enact the "game model" that Seibold spoke so often about.

Brisbane's attack at no stage in the last two seasons had the "cohesion and connection" – another favourite Seibold term – that the coach was trying to instil in it.

What next for the Broncos?

It got to the point this year where captain Alex Glenn said, after six losses in a row, that the players "have dictated how we want to train and play".

They went as far as to decide, according to Glenn, that Anthony Milford would play his natural game and not to the structure that had been imposed on him. Glenn's comments reflected a playing group that was not satisfied with the coaching system they had been under.

In defence, the Broncos under Seibold became a rabble. On many occasions opposition forwards waltzed over to score from close range with a suite of Broncos forward continually being caught on their heels. There has been no improvement, and now the Broncos have conceded 465 points at an average of 31 per game to languish in 15th position.

Seibold has made plenty of changes to his roster since he arrived but it is notable that players he let go such as Kodi Nikorima, Jaydn Su'A and even Patrick Mago are all in career-best form at other clubs. On the flip side the play of representative players such as Tevita Pangai jnr, Joe Ofahengaue, Milford and Jamayne Isaako has gone backwards when you compare it to the form they displayed when Wayne Bennett was the coach.

Brodie Croft was signed as a game-managing half, and Seibold went hard to sign the former Storm playmaker, despite one of Croft's biggest supporters in Matthew Johns saying that game management was not his strength.

The issue for Seibold was that there was no indication the Broncos would get better in the future under his tutelage. The loss of David Fifita to the Titans, which has been explained as a money issue by Brisbane chairman Karl Morris, would arguably not have occurred if Brisbane had been flying high as a united and successful team.

Thaiday confident Walters could turn around Broncos

Several Brisbane players have told that overall Seibold has not listened to them when they have offered advice about what should change. One said that he gave up making suggestions because the coach would not budge on his methodology.

There was a sense that the players were not embracing Seibold's complex game plans and strategies. The squad carried notebooks around with them in the pre-season but they may as well have been giant boulders, such was the weight of the information overload.

If one anecdote sums up the disconnect between Seibold and some of his players it was James Roberts last year in one note-taking session. Instead of writing down what he had learned, Roberts simply had signed his name multiple times.

The messages the coach sent his players in post-match press conferences has also raised eyebrows. Often this year Seibold has explained poor defensive performances as fatigue caused by a lack of possession. That simply gave players an excuse to drop their bundle when the tide turned against them, as has often occurred in the final quarter of games this year.

Compare that to South Sydney's 31-30 win against the Cowboys a fortnight ago, with 43 per cent of the football, when the simple message all week from acting coach Jason Demetriou was "whatever it takes, we don't leave Townsville without two competition points". Senior Souths players reiterated that at half-time and the Rabbitohs came from behind to win in the final minute.

There will be those looking for external factors for Seibold's demise as a Broncos coach but there was not some grand conspiracy against him orchestrated by the influential Old Boys or any other factors at play. The team's failure was a result of what occurred in the football department, overseen by the head coach himself.


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

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