The Broncos are missing Josh McGuire. Picture: Alix Sweeney
The Broncos are missing Josh McGuire. Picture: Alix Sweeney

It’s time for spinal surgery at the Broncos

Each week, The Courier-Mail's chief sportswriter Robert Craddock looks at the big talking points coming out of the NRL.

 

Darius Boyd has been out of sorts for the Broncos. Picture: AAP Image/Rohan Thomson
Darius Boyd has been out of sorts for the Broncos. Picture: AAP Image/Rohan Thomson

 

OFF-SIDE

DARIUS ON THE MOVE

ONE of the big questions facing the Broncos in the wake of their early season form slump is whether they are bold enough to shift club captain Darius Boyd.

It's been increasingly apparent in the opening rounds fullback is becoming a young man's game with the Broncos frequently tormented by flashy custodians with young, fresh legs and scintillating speed.

Several experienced judges believe magnificent club servant Boyd would be better served at this stage of his career playing five-eighth, centre or even wing, closer to the action in a team with a spine that just is not working, allowing the dynamic Jamayne Isaako to be let loose at the back.

RAMPAGING COWBOY

JOSH McGuire made 214 metres for the Cowboys against the Warriors and every one of them was a little dagger through the Broncos hearts.

McGuire was tied to the Broncos on a $750,000-plus contract when he was suddenly let go to the Cowboys at Christmas and the coin he left in the salary cap was absorbed by a group of promising youngsters.

Sounded great in theory but it meant that a 23-year-old Matt Lodge became forward leader and there was no old hard man upfront to set standards like James Graham at the Saints and Jesse Bromwich at the Storm.

 

The Broncos could be looking at 2021 before their potential is reached. Picture: Mark Kolbe/Getty Images
The Broncos could be looking at 2021 before their potential is reached. Picture: Mark Kolbe/Getty Images

 

THE PRESSURE'S ON

THE trouble with long term plans is that we live in a world where people want - make that demand - short term success.

Especially when they are Broncos fans. The young group of forwards tied up on long term deals by the Broncos have rousing futures but they are also being paid for potential rather than performance. They may well tear the competition to pieces in 2021. But with no title since 2006 the fans are restless.

 

NRL player Jack De Belin arrives at the NSW Federal Court in Sydney. Picture: AAP Image/Peter Rae
NRL player Jack De Belin arrives at the NSW Federal Court in Sydney. Picture: AAP Image/Peter Rae

 

SERIOUSLY?

JACK de Belin's lawyer last week made jaws drop around the rugby league world when he claimed the NRL failed his client by not having enough education about violence against women.

So you are saying a 28-year-old sportsman who was privately educated at a Catholic college and had played first grade rugby league for eight years warranted further education on why it would be wrong to assault a woman?

Dear, oh dear …

 

Nathan Cleary with his father and coach Ivan. Picture: Phil Hillyard
Nathan Cleary with his father and coach Ivan. Picture: Phil Hillyard

 

NOT SO CLEAR

IT cost Penrith about $8 million to unite the father and son team of Nathan and Ivan Cleary.

It's an enchanting story because rugby league loves a family tie but the deal always had a worrying vibe to it given than Ivan has a negative win-loss percentage and Nathan is still developing. With two wins from six games pressure is rising steadily on both of them. Former coach Anthony Griffin must be wondering what he did wrong.

 

Michael Gordon of the Titans is congratulated by Bryce Cartwright and teammates after scoring a try. Picture: Bradley Kanaris/Getty Images
Michael Gordon of the Titans is congratulated by Bryce Cartwright and teammates after scoring a try. Picture: Bradley Kanaris/Getty Images

 

ON-SIDE

TITANIC EFFORT

MAL Meninga wants the new-look Titans to be a team of character and spirit and yesterday's rousing win over Newcastle had all of that.

With several key players missing and a host of other playing out of position the Titans could have had an off day but played their best football of the year.

That said, Newcastle remain a major disappointment. Coach Nathan Brown, whose teams have conceded on average more than 20 points per game in seven of his nine NRL seasons, had better get his side moving in a hurry otherwise his NRL career will be under serious threat.

 

Lachlan Lewis takes on Sam Burgess. Picture: AAP Image/Craig Golding
Lachlan Lewis takes on Sam Burgess. Picture: AAP Image/Craig Golding

 

LOCK HIM IN

WE love the fact there's a little of Uncle Wal in Bulldogs halfback Lachlan Lewis.

The debonair Lewis, nephew of Wally Lewis and son of Scott, can blow hot and cold and all shades in between on the one day but that has made him one of the most interesting and entertaining players in the competition.

Watching him fearlessly take on Sam Burgess on Saturday when Burgess had clearly targeted him as a weak defensive link revived memories of the "in your face'' spirit displayed by the great Wally in his iconic State of Origin stare-off with Mark Geyer.

 

Melbourne Storm’s Christian Welch. Picture: Ian Currie
Melbourne Storm’s Christian Welch. Picture: Ian Currie

 

CHRISTIAN SOLDIER

VILLANOVA-educated, commerce degree-holding Melbourne Storm forward Christian Welch is an unusually deep and sensitive thinker for a prop forward.

Hats off to him for calling out Storm fans on Twitter for bagging former club golden boy Cooper Cronk who returned in triumph to Melbourne with the Roosters on Saturday night.

"Very disappointed in the booing of Coops,'' he wrote. "Fifteen years of service not too many have given more to our club. Playing group respect everything he has done would love for our fans to as well.''

 

MAROON MAGIC

HERE'S a message to anyone fretting over the form of Queensland's State of Origin hopefuls … don't.

No, this will not be one of the strongest side's Queensland has chosen but the form of Cameron Munster, Josh McGuire, Ben Hunt, Michael Morgan and Will Chambers over the weekend shows the key playing are finding their mojo's at the perfect time.

 

Rabbitohs coach Wayne Bennett with his squad. Pictures: Matt King/Getty Images
Rabbitohs coach Wayne Bennett with his squad. Pictures: Matt King/Getty Images

 

WAYNE'S WORLD

ONE of the impressive things about Wayne Bennett's successful start with South Sydney is that they don't look world-beaters yet are somehow beating the world.

Each week the Rabbitohs look vulnerable and gettable yet they have dropped only one game. They are playing like a side who believe in each other and look happy.