COMMENT By Steve Ricketts, former chief rugby league writer, The Courier-Mail.
TIME TO FORGE A NEW IDENTITY
AS a young player at the Canberra Raiders, Anthony Siebold liked a good time.
He didn’t play up, but there were few signs of the rugby league student that he has become; the man given the task of guiding the Broncos’ to their first premiership since 2006.
Siebold, I am reliably informed, will quickly work out the players who have the aptitude to be part of a new, golden era for the Broncos.
Members of the old guard, such as Sam Thaiday and Josh McGuire have moved on. Thaiday played in the 2006 grand final win, as did Darius Boyd, who is the only member of the current Broncos’ roster to have played in that game.
When the Broncos won their first premiership, in 1992, they did it without 1980s superstars like Wally Lewis, Gene Miles, Greg Conescu, Greg Dowling, Sam Backo and Colin Scott, who had all left or retired.
The ’92 side forged their own legend, and now it is the time for the current side to cast off the shackles of by-gone seasons. (There are eight survivors from the 17 man squad which was beaten in golden point extra time by the Cowboys in 2015).
This is a new beginning, a new era, because there is no coming back for Wayne Bennett now.
The powerful Broncos’ Old Boys group say they will give Siebold breathing space, and the benefit of the doubt, despite the general belief among that group that Bennett was treated badly, and that Kevin Walters should have been the new coach.
As with every new coach, there will be a honeymoon period. Good luck to all concerned at Red Hill after an ugly divorce.
- Anthony Siebold’s decision to base summer training at the excellent facilities at Red Hill makes perfect sense, particularly as there are two football fields now. In the past, pre-season training was kept away from Red Hill to protect the surface of the only field there, the old Gilbert Park. Previous coach, Wayne Bennett also worked on the theory that the players got pumped up when they returned to HQ in the weeks before the start of the season, because they knew the serious business was about to begin. The Broncos had been training at Purtell Park, home of Wests Panthers, before Siebold arrived. Scott Barker, a long standing member of Bennett’s support staff, told me recently his great uncle was the late Gordon Treichel, who was co-manager of the 1986 Kangaroos in Britain and France, and a former Brisbane Wests’ chairman.
- It is good to see the women calling for an extended NRLW season, because this year’s comp was a farce, (in terms of its duration) and the hoopla on grand final day, was over the top, considering it was the culmination of only four weeks. They got premiership rings, just like the men, who had been busting their guts for 30 weeks! It’s not the women’s fault, but until they play a longer season, there is no way the women should be the main curtain raiser to the NRL grand final. They are still a sideshow, and should be down the card, like a schoolboy game. The NRL is playing catch-up with other sports, when it comes to women’s club competitions, so they will bend over backwards to please. Female registrations are about the only area where the NRL can boast of increases (they are starting from a low base) as administrators refuse to confront the size issues in the juniors. And before people bag me as sexist, a search of newspaper files will show that I was writing women’s league stories a long time before it became ‘sexy’ (did I say that), and I wrote several times, that the women could show the men a thing or two when it comes to pure skill and keeping the ball alive.
- The NRL must not help the cash strapped Cronulla Sharks. It is up to the clubs to survive now, and if they can’t make a go it, despite generous grants from the NRL, they must fold or be relocated. That was former ARL chairman, Ken Arthurson’s approach in 1995 when the competition expanded from 16 clubs to 20. It was to be a matter of survival of the fittest. I’m not saying that was the right thing – to approve four new clubs – but, if the Super League raids had not happened, it would have been interesting to see how the league landscape evolved. I imagine a stack of clubs would have gone broke.