Updated: Jun 29, 2020
Was Anthony Seibold handed the biggest hospital pass in coaching history?
Brisbane Broncos coach Anthony Siebold was groomed as a long-term solution. He was supposed to be the man to end the longest premiership drought in the club’s 30-year history.
To date, the knives have been out over his brief tenure in charge of the men from Red Hill. But is the criticism warranted?
The 11th hour coaching swap between Seibold and Wayne Bennett in time for the season in December 2018, left Seibold with a squad that wasn’t his. The first task he was faced with was to put a halt on the downward momentum of the team. The Broncos went from losing Grand Finalists in 2015 to being annihilated in the first week of finals in 2018. Coupled with this was the stark reality that a vast number of players were not pulling their salary cap weight and were signed to long term deals – Boyd, Bird, McCullough, Milford, Roberts (2021).
Many pundits have been overly critical over Seibold’s since he joined Red Hill, however, let’s take a closer look at the squad that he inherited after Bennett’s last game:
When setting out this piece I was going to draft a short paragraph on each player, but I quickly realised that there are only so many adjectives for words like, overrated, mediocre, lacking in x factor, old, slow, journeyman and has-been. But for the likes of potential superstars: Haas, Fifita and Staggs and a real tryer in Glenn, the majority of players in the squad aren’t generating any interest from rival clubs at the salary Brisbane is paying them. To put it bluntly, the mess Seibold was left to clean up, gave him very little chance of success.
The Broncos squad was missing the right mix of players in the right areas. The premiers of seasons past have had an experienced forward leader who takes the tough carries and inspires the rest of the pack, think JWH, Matt Scott or Paul Gallen.
There is usually searing pace in the back three or an experienced organising half, maybe the hooker sparks a lot out of dummy half. Yes - the young forwards have some untapped potential, but there was no overall strategy driving the recruitment process prior to Seibold joining.
Seibold immediately attempted to unscramble the mess. Before the season proper began, he moved on Kahu, McGuire and Nikorima. Roberts reunited with Bennett mid-season. None of these players have gone on to light up the competition at their new home.
Unfortunately, the under-performers were sucking up valuable cap room and the war chest was non-existent to get the Broncos out of their mess. Jake Turpin and Xavier Coates show promise but NRL commentators need to understand that the Broncos are going to be in for more pain until it gets better.
2021, the last year of Bennett’s long-term contracts, has the potential to be even worse. But, and it is a big but, 2022 shows promise. It will be the first year that Seibold will have some much-needed funds to recruit and plug the gaps. Boyd, Bird, Milford and McCullough’s contract dramas will be a distant memory.
Wade Graham could be the type of leadership they need at Red Hill. (Photo via, FoxSports).
Seibold’s first move to rebuild is to go after a midfield general. Luke Keary should be allowed to write his own cheque. Next cab of the rank is the fullback. It is quickly becoming one of the most important areas of the game. Joseph Manu is a jet; he is stuck behind Tedesco and he could be an accomplished fullback in his own right. The final piece of the puzzle is a forward leader, with some experience. Wade Graham will be 31 during the 2022 season. He could fill the second-row position on the other side to Fifita. He has a kicking game, can lift a side with a big hit and can spark something from nothing.
I'm dreaming, but here's what the Broncos could look like in 2022, only 620 more sleeps!
1. Manu 2. Coates 3. Staggs 4. Farnworth 5. Isaako 6. Keary (c) 7. Dearden 8. Haas 9. Turpin
10. Carrigan 11. Fifita 12. Graham 13. Pangai Jr