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Broncos forward Tevita Pangai jnr.

Coach Kevin Walters is adamant close isn't good enough for this new era of the Broncos as he lauded his side’s lionhearted effort in the 20-12 loss to Penrith but demanded they find the composure in clutch moments.

Walters was both inspired and dejected after the heartbreaking defeat, confident his men could’ve produced the upset of the NRL season if they’d executed under pressure late in the game.

Instead, it was Panthers half Nathan Cleary who iced the game, a 43 metre field goal in the 74th minute and try soon after to extend Penrith’s undefeated start to 2021 to six straight games.

Walters recalled at least three wasted sets close to the Panthers line late in the game that cost his side victory.

While encouraged by the 80 minutes of concentration by his team he knows it means nothing without two competition points.

Match Highlights: Broncos v Panthers

"We had a crack. I’m actually disappointed more than anything," Walters said.

"We were in it that last 15 minutes and if we executed a few things better we win the game and we didn’t.

"There is a lot to take out of it but this club is about winning and that’s our third or fourth loss in a row.

"That is somewhere near, but it’s not where we want to be. I’m still really disappointed with the loss. That was our best performance of the season.

"We are not there yet by a long stretch.

"I want to win, that is what I want. Effort was great and we had chances to win. The effort was good enough to get the win but we just didn’t execute when needed."

Kennar taps it back for Pangai

Walters said the return to NRL action for winger Corey Oates, after five weeks in Intrust Super Cup exile, was among the most pleasing aspects of the performance while Tevita Pangai jnr had found his new home on the right edge.

It had been a big week for the Broncos after coach Kevin Walters sent the club’s highest-paid player Anthony Milford back to the Intrust Super Cup in a bid to reinvigorate his marquee man.

It also sent a message to his underperforming team that no reputation is too big to be dropped.

The Broncos had their chances but Walters knows if his team is to entertain thoughts of reaching the level Penrith occupy, they need to find the composure in the big moments.

That falls upon the shoulders of halves Brodie Croft and Tom Dearden while Milford is finding himself again at Souths Logan.

"Brodie is the more senior player, both have got to share responsibility but Brodie is more senior so I expect him to have influence," Walters said when asked who is running the show on the field.

Walters, meanwhile, all but confirmed former Bronco Karmichael Hunt would return to Red Hill on a train and trial contract next week.

Croft to the fore for Bullemor

Hunt is currently playing for Souths Logan in the Intrust Super Cup as he looks to return to rugby league after his defection to AFL in 2009 after 126 games for the Broncos.

Walters said he wasn’t interested in Hunt a fortnight ago, but says the performance of the team over the first five rounds had convinced him to invite the former rugby union player back to the Broncos even though he won’t be available for selection until at least round 10.

"We have made some inquiries with Karmichael and just waiting to get the green light I guess," Walters said.

"I just want to see what he can offer and see what he can bring."