What was shaping as a promising season for Kevin Walters and his Broncos has quickly turned into a nightmare.
The stakes were high entering Thursday’s clash with Parramatta at Suncorp Stadium. The home side was soundly beaten 53-6, making it 113 points leaked in two consecutive games collectively.
They’ve now lost four of their last five games, and must beat the Dragons in the last round to guarantee they limp into finals. The resurgent Raiders are hot on their heels on the ladder.
It’s a fall from grace for the team many people thought would contest the top four at season’s end after a 2022 revival.
Eels cruise through soft Broncos
Speaking on Wide World of Sports’ Freddy and the Eighth before Thursday’s game, league legend Andrew Johns noted the Broncos look “tired”.
“A lot of those players have had big years,” Johns said, referencing a number of Origin selections and the fact rookie winger Selwyn Cobbo was rested from this week’s game.
Cobbo has been a revelation at Brisbane this year, but he asked coach Walters for a break a fortnight out from finals and with must-win games ahead in the draw.
Thursday’s game against the Eels could not have gone much worse for the home side if Stephen King had scripted it.
They were already missing Patrick Carrigan, TC Robati, and Herbie Farnworth to injury.
Then, just minutes into his 250th NRL game, captain and halfback Adam Reynolds copped a head knock and was ruled out for the game.
Fiery prop Thomas Flegler got a forearm to the throat just before half time and was rushed to hospital, not returning.
And in the second half Kobe Hetherington failed a head injury assessment and was ruled out, then Brenko Lee limped off with a hamstring issue. The Broncos had no players left on the bench – the 18th man unable to be activated given only two of the injuries were concussion.
Clinging to eighth spot on the ladder, Walters must take his troops to Sydney’s south next week to take on St George Illawarra.
“Their confidence is shot,” Broncos legend, and current director, Darren Lockyer said on Nine.
“You’ve got to try grind your way out until you hopefully get a few positive things happen to you on the field.”
League great Paul Vautin is highly unimpressed by how far the Broncos have fallen.
“The Broncos are broken – I can’t possibly see them beating the Dragons down there next week,” Vautin said.