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How 28 miserable minutes of defensive lapses have crippled Broncos

Red Hill was never going to be rebuilt in a day but just 28 miserable minutes have put Brisbane's 2021 campaign on the rocks leading into an intensely difficult month of scheduling.

On the back of last year's wooden spoon and plummeting to defensive depths never seen in the club's 33-year history, the Broncos have competed well enough across the first four weeks of Kevin Walters's NRL coaching career.

That is, aside from two 11-minute horror shows, and a six-minute shocker that account for more than 60 per cent of Brisbane's tries conceded for 2021.

Ryan Papenhuyzen's personal four-try blitz of the Broncos last week turned a 6-0 Storm deficit into a comfortable 24-6 half-time lead and was sadly par for Brisbane's course this season.

Similar three-try lapses against Parramatta (between the 47th and 58th minutes) and the Gold Coast (32nd-38th minutes) came with Brisbane holding a surprise lead or being well and truly in the contest.

But the costly defensive clock-offs have Brisbane sitting on a 1-3 record leading into Thursday's clash with high-flying South Sydney and their old master Wayne Bennett.

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The Rabbitohs clash continues a brutal April for the Broncos, who face premiership contenders Penrith and Parramatta again before hosting the Titans in round eight.

Brisbane's defensive lapses are the first item on Walters's agenda as he looks to corral a young side into keeping pace for the entire 80 minutes.

"We spoke about that at training and we've just been trying to work on it," prop Payne Haas said.

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"With some young players in the team when it gets tough we just make silly errors trying to do it on our own.

"We've got to do everything together and we can't let anyone go [one] out by themselves. That's when problems start to happen.

"We've just got to stick solid during the games, especially when things get tough, and sort it out together.

"Our first 30 minutes was really good last week [against Melbourne] and we had that little 11-minute lapse and then it just kept on flowing from there.

"So we've got to be tougher when it starts getting hard and we face adversity. We've just got to be better and switch on to get those lapses out of our game."

On current form the Broncos are staring down another losing run, with bookmakers installing South Sydney as $1.06 favourites, and Brisbane $9 outsiders for the Stadium Australia stoush.

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In a slight reprieve for the Queenslanders, Brisbane's eased lockdown means the Broncos are under less stringent COVID-19 protocols as they shift camp to Sydney's Darling Harbour this week.

There is still no definitive date on when they can return home, but players are now at least allowed outdoors in groups and are only required to wear masks in indoor venues like the rest of their NRL cohort.

Leading into the Storm clash on Good Friday, players were only permitted to leave their hotel for training and gym sessions, and ate meals in their own individual rooms under strict biosecurity measures.

Broncos prop Payne Haas.
Broncos prop Payne Haas. ©NRL Photos

The trip to Melbourne was also Haas's first game of the season after serving a three-game suspension and $50,000 for abusing police in Tweed Heads earlier this year.

The NSW Origin prop was the only Broncos forward to run for more than 100 metres against the Storm, finishing with 151 metres and 33 tackles from an impressive 69-minute outing.

"I'm a bit relieved. Watching the boys play in those first three games was pretty bad and I felt bad on myself," Haas said.

"I'm just grateful to be back and grateful I've got an opportunity to come back.

"I've got little brothers and sisters and kids all around look up to me and I just want to be a good role model for them."