To put it nicely, us Broncos fans are a rabid, loyal and glass-half-full bunch, so seeing the lads sneak into the 2019 elimination finals against the Eels—even at fortress Bankwetht (running joke from last year’s podcasts!)—sparked the ‘anything can happen’ attitude that sends fans racing to dingy alleyways for premature championship tattoos.
Then 58-0 happened.
It was heart-breaking in a way that only sports fandom can induce, and not since the witnessing the fastest allowed try of all time in person (ironically also against the Eels) have I been so ashamed of a team. Broncos fans have been left to suffer the long months that ensued until the 2020 season broke the horizon like a warm, loving sun. Barring the obvious caveat that our emerging star was arrested in Bali, hopes are high at Red Hill. Jack Bird’s skin folds are the best of his career, Milford is training the house down and I even heard Darbs bench-pressed Matt Lodge AND Tevita Pangai.
Yes, it’s aaaaaall going to be just fine.
Ins and Outs (from NRL.com)
Ins – Brodie Croft (Storm), Jordan KaWOOOO! (Cowboys), Jesse Arthars (Titans), Ilikena Vudogo, Keenan Palasia, Jamil Hopoate, Xavier Coates (all upgraded from development contracts)
Unsigned/Losses – Troy Dargan (Rabbitohs), Matt Gillett, Shaun Fensom, Sam Tagataese (retired), George Fai, Patrick Mago, James Segeyaro (unsigned), Gehamat ‘Catfish’s favourite Bronco’ Shibasaki (Knights)
1 Jamayne Isaako 2 Corey gOates* 3 Kotoni Staggs* 4 Jack Bird 5 Darius Boyd 6 Anthony Milford 7 Brodie Croft 8 Matthew Lodge 9 Jake Turpin 10 Payne Haas 11 Alex Glenn 12 David Fifita 13 Tevita Pangai
14 Cory Paix/Andrew McCollough 15 Joe Ofahengaue 16 Patrick Carrigan 17 Thomas Flegler
* Oates has a leg infection and is in doubt for round one, and may play in pain all year
* Staggs has withdrawn from the All Stars match and Brisbane’s trial against Redcliffe with a foot injury but at this stage should play in round one
* Ofahengaue has an NRL Integrity Unit investigation pending following his “motor vehicle-related offence” around the Aus Day weekend.
Other squad members: Jesse Arthars, Xavier Coates, Thomas Dearden, Herbie Farnworth, Jamil Hopoate, Jordan Kahu, Richie Kennar, Rhys Kennedy, Sean O’Sullivan, Keenan Palasia, Izaia Perese, Ilikena Vudogo
The Broncos have a favourable draw to start the season. Leading up to the first bye they play six times at Suncorp Stadium with no short turnarounds, with the away games coming against the Cowboys and Titans (both games still in Queensland), Panthers, Eels, Manly and Rabbitohs. In fact, they only face one team that made last year’s finals series in the first five rounds. This gives the team a good chance to put some wins on the board early and use the momentum to build a strong finals case.
Payne Haas ($728.2k, FRF) 2019 average 78.4
Alright, I’m sure nobody on here needs me to convince them to purchase this monster but for the sake of word count, here we go.
Haas went from a near bottom dollar cheapie bench prospect who missed the opening rounds with off field issues to one of the most destructive forces in the NRL, churning out a whopping 12ppg more that the second highest averaging player at the position (David Klemmer). All you need to do is watch the replay of his solo try against the Panthers in round 22 (which I view nearly as many times a day as JT watches Morgo’s flick pass) to see his potential.
His base + power average (which combines stats like tackles and runs with offloads, tackle busts and the like) topped all players at 73.3, nearly a full 4 points higher than Jason Taumalolo in second place. In other words, the points he accrues by walking onto the field and playing his natural game is in set-and-forget captaincy territory without adding stats like tries and line breaks which will undoubtedly come his way.
Basically, if you don’t have room for one of the safest captaincies in the game and the highest averaging player in a position of scarcity then you’re doing SuperCoach wrong.
David Fifita ($501.9k, 2RF) 2019 average 54
Fifita’s solid but unspectacular average of 54 in no way captures what a weapon the young man became when Seibold unleashed him in the latter rounds of the season. Although he began 2019 off the interchange, from round 18 onwards he became an 80 minute edge assassin who damaged opponents to the tune of 76.9ppg, including back-to-back tonnes in rounds 23 and 24. An agile and damaging runner, Fifita racks up metres and tackle busts for fun and looks to continue that momentum into 2020 at a potential 20ppg discount on his starting price.
However, as much as he looked a Broncos messiah by year’s end it turns out he’s just a very naughty boy. Off season controversy tarnished what was shaping up to be a lucrative hunt for his signature by several clubs and Fifita is now widely expected to be resigning with the Broncos for a discount on what rivals were willing to pay for ‘hand shaking’ him out of prison.
Although he looks to be a must for every side, there is some talk that he returned to training out of shape and that Pangai has been doing a lot of work on an edge. This has led people to believe that he could be used off the interchange to begin the season with the Broncos starting a backrow of Glenn, Pangai and Carrigan. I feel that would be a massive call for Seibold to make in round one even if he wants to give Fifita a slap on the wrist for his off-field antics. I personally believe that Pangai will start in 13 and switch to the edge to relieve Glenn with Carrigan, Ofahengaue and Flegler (who has been flagged as a potential Origin debutant this season) to get a run in the middle. However, it is something to keep an eye on in trials.
Matt Lodge ($582k, FRF) 2019 average 62.6
One of the most controversial figures in the NRL quietly went on to achieve gun status last season. He began as you would expect from a FRF with 52.4ppg made of almost exclusively base stats, but from round 11 onwards he went on to average 67.7 points on the back of an emerging offload and some creativity in attack (though still notably only one try).
FRF is the position where it looks like it’ll pay to lock in Haas, one or two mid-rangers and a cheapie, but Lodge is certainly a player you should target during the season if you need a no-nonsense 60+. He was talked about as a potential club captain and is part of the leadership group, so regardless of what you think of him Lodge clearly has the trust of the club, his coach and the playing group.
Jamayne Isaako ($420.0k, CTW/FLB) 2019 average 45.2
After a 55.7 average in his rookie season, many tipped the Iceman to take his game to the next level in 2019. Some would claim second year syndrome hit, with Isaako’s average dropping by over 10ppg to a mediocre 45.2 on the season. However, Isaako was dealing with off field distractions including the tragic illness of his father, along with giving up the kicking duties for several games to Kotoni Staggs after he returned from time away from the game, which no doubt contributed to his disappointing scores.
The good news is he appears set (barring a late pre-season surge from Jesse Arthars) to begin the season in his favoured position of fullback, along with resuming his duties as the club’s primary goal kicker.
It’s only a small sample size but in three games at fullback in 2018, Isaako managed 60.7PPG with just the lone try, which hints to his potential if given a full season at the position in 2020.
In a season where CTW stocks are thinner than ever, you do could far worse than slot Isaako in as your ‘premium’ option. Everything at this stage points to a bounce back season where he will both make coin and score you points. In fact, it would not surprise me if he finishes in the top three CTWs by season’s end.
Anthony Milford ($476k, 5/8 / FLB) 2019 average 51.2
The name ‘Milf’ has become backlisted in SuperCoach circles the last two seasons by all but Sangster and Wilfred, but it is easy to forget that between 2015 – 2017 he averaged 65, 67 and 70 which put him in the upper echelon of the position.
A controlling halfback. Ben Hunt’s game management allowed Milford to play his natural running style, and after ‘that catch’ ended Hunt’s time at Red Hill, Milford has been forced to adjust to a controlling half role who had to play alongside a revolving door of partners over the last two seasons. He even switched to fullback for a stint in 2019 in a desperation move by Seibold to spark some attack, but that experiment has mercifully been put to bed.
So why the optimism this season? Brodie Croft has been signed from the Melbourne Storm. While the jury is out on whether Croft is the answer to Brisbane’s spine problems, he is certainly expected to steer the side around the park better than anyone Milford has lined up next to since Hunt departed to the mid-season premiers. This will allow Milford to revert to his natural strengths and hopefully, some semblance of SuperCoach relevancy.
In fact, his base output last year was only 1ppg lower than his career high SuperCoach season in 2017, so if he can regain some attacking stats alongside Croft then he could be a mid-ranger with upside to start the season.
Jake Turpin ($336.6k, HOK / HFB) 2019 average 36.2
Now, I am certainly not claiming that Turpin is going to be a bust in the Broncos spine. This label is purely based on his starting price and SuperCoach potential. With halfback a position with few cheap options I’ve seen Turpin’s name come up from time to time and sure, it looks promising in theory. A starting hooker who you can plug into the notoriously mercurial halfback position should be gold, right?
The problem with Turpin is his PPM. He churned out 0.618PPM in five games at hooker (albeit a small sample size) and adding to the puzzle is that McCollough or Paix should be in the 14 jersey to relieve him. If he receives 60 minutes per game, at his PPM that would equate to a 37 average which is about what he’s priced at. Now, you could argue that his game will evolve playing a more natural position with a full pre-season under his belt, but even the most optimistic among us probably wouldn’t see him averaging more than 45ppg which is not enough to warrant a spot in your side.
He does however make my all-time haircut 17.
Alex Glenn ($413k, 2RF/CTW) 2019 average 44.5
Glenn is a fantastic bloke, a great clubman and a servant of the game who has been well rewarded with club captaincy for 2020. I am a massive Lexi fan in real life, but SuperCoach is a harsh mistress and you simply cannot select him even with the limited 2RF/CTW options that are typically rolled gold.
As with Turpin, I’ve seen his name floated as someone who you can plug into CTW to give you an anchor, but his 2019 average in 80 minute games on the edge is 50 (when centre games are removed) and there is a real prospect that his minutes drop to 50-60 to accommodate the glut of talented young forwards who will demand larger roles. This paints a dreary picture of about 40ppg as a ceiling when accounting for his usual PPM of around 0.66. There are better options.
The only real genuine cheapie prospect is Xavier Coates ($203.5K, CTW), who will only become an option if Corey Oates cannot suit up at the start of the season. He is a popular placeholder right now and will certainly come into contention when we get a better idea of Oates’ availability. However, could you trust him to hold down the position for long enough to make money when Oates, or even Herbie Farnworth ($234k), could find themselves on the wing on any given round?
Cory Paix ($171.9k, HFB) is a cheap option who could find himself in the utility role, however with the prospect of low minutes these players should be avoided.
Unfortunately, other Broncos interchange players suited up in first grade last season so will start above bottom dollar and should not be considered unless they are expected to see a significant increase in their roles.