Refs help Broncos get back on the attack
THE academic in Anthony Seibold is forever probing, leaving no stone unturned in his quest to break Brisbane's 13-year premiership drought this season.
The new Broncos coach has injected some eye-raising methods to Red Hill, including the ear-splitting, techno-style beats designed to raise testosterone levels for his players during Brisbane's sweltering heat.
Some would question whether alpha-male football stars need any hormonal help, but another aid, involving arguably the code's most despised individuals, could influence Brisbane's plan to be the kings of the NRL.
For the past three weeks, Seibold has enlisted the help of NRL and Intrust Super Cup referees to preside over Brisbane's training sessions.
On Tuesday, former NRL referee Shayne Hayne, one of the code's most decorated whistleblowers, made his debut at Red Hill to run his eye over Brisbane's structures.
Statistics from the 2018 NRL season showed Brisbane received the fewest penalties.
And while they were in top five for overall penalties conceded, they erred on 18 occasions for hands in the ruck - the worst disciplinary record in that category in the NRL.
As tactically calculated as he is cerebral, Seibold is determined for Brisbane not to beat themselves this season.
"We've had the refs come here twice a week for the past three weeks," Seibold said.
"As we get closer to the trial games, it's good for our arm-wrestles (in defence) to have the referee there.
"Most Sydney teams do it. We did it last year (at his former club South Sydney).
"We are really comfortable with where we are heading. Graham Annesley (NRL football-operations boss) said at the NRL coaches meeting that he wants to see more attacking football and that comes with ball in play."
Free-wheeling football has been part of Brisbane's cultural fabric since their inception in 1988 and Seibold is keen to encourage the likes of Anthony Milford, Kodi Nikorima and Darius Boyd to play what they see.
More ball in play, theoretically, means more opportunities for Brisbane's attacking men. Seibold hopes NRL referees put the whistle away and give his spearheads the platform to entertain.
"First and foremost you want to win, but you have to use the tools that you have got," he said.
"There's no use having good attacking weapons in the team if you aren't going to use them.
"In an ideal world, as a rugby league person, I want to see the ball in play.
"Traditionally in the NRL the average ball in play is 56 minutes, last year it was down to about 53 minutes.
"Super Rugby from what I understand is 30-odd minutes so ball in play is what differentiates us from rugby.
"We don't want to be going backwards.
"I would like to see the ball in play a bit more and less stoppages and we are trying to train that way in any case.
"I imagine other teams are training like that as well."
Seibold is challenging Broncos players using game-simulation methods. At precise moments at training, Seibold's staffers will unveil a small electronic board with a time clock showing a pre-determined minute countdown.
For five, six or seven minutes, for example, Brisbane's players must attempt to score points as the seconds count down.
It teaches intent, and performance under pressure.
"There were times last year where we were chasing points at the back end of games … and we crumbled," back-rower Alex Glenn said. "This is helping us deal with that pressure mentally and physically."
Last season, Brisbane leaked 500 points in the regular season, the worst of the top-eight teams. Hayne detected a harder-edge in Brisbane's tryline attitude on Tuesday.
"I've been to a lot of scrimmages at clubs … the Broncos were really good," Hayne said.
"Leading into the trials, they seem to have their structures right defensively.
"It was a hot day and there was a bit of frustration with dropped ball at times, but the way they defended their tryline, you don't lose too many games if you do that."