Can Seibold drag Brisbane back into contention? Image: AAP Image/Darren England
Can Seibold drag Brisbane back into contention? Image: AAP Image/Darren England

Former Broncs railing against new broom

Broncos legend Justin Hodges flew to Sydney on Tuesday to announce plans for his next fight.

In the process, Hodges unleashed a volley of verbal uppercuts on his beloved Broncos and Anthony Seibold, the ferocity of which was enough to leave the first-year Brisbane coach sprawling on the NRL canvas.

In the space of 48 hours, two of Brisbane's most decorated servants - Hodges and Gorden Tallis - have come out swinging.

 

Seibold is under huge pressure already. Image: AAP Image/Glenn Hunt
Seibold is under huge pressure already. Image: AAP Image/Glenn Hunt

 

In the red corner, Tallis launched first, accusing Brisbane's players of arrogance, suggesting CEO Paul White had lost control of the club to a player agent and slamming the current squad for having "won nothing".

In the blue corner, out came Hodges, lashing Brisbane's eroding culture and lack of leadership and insisting Kevin Walters - not Seibold - should have succeeded Wayne Bennett as coach.

"The Broncos culture has been lost over the years," Hodges said ahead of his second professional fight at Star Casino on May 15.

"I agree with what Gordie said.

"The understanding of the history of the place and what we achieved has been lost a bit with the current group.

"Understanding what the Broncos jumper means and what they are playing for ... it's time for us to get that back."

 

Justin Hodges didn’t pull his punches. Image: Peter Wallis
Justin Hodges didn’t pull his punches. Image: Peter Wallis

 

The Tallis-Hodges one-two punch is Brisbane's worst nightmare at a time when the new Seibold regime is teetering with a worrying 1-3 start as the Broncos prepare for Thursday night's clash against the Wests Tigers at Suncorp Stadium.

More chillingly, it is a cautionary tale for Broncos hierarchy over ethical standards and the political perils of upsetting those who have dug the well - Brisbane's club legends.

It is not Seibold's fault that he was handed a five-year deal but the messy dismissal of Brisbane's greatest coach Bennett, coupled with the snubbing of favourite son 'Kevvie', has left shards of flying shrapnel.

 

Tallis won’t watch Brisbane lose without comment. Image: Adam Head
Tallis won’t watch Brisbane lose without comment. Image: Adam Head

 

Seibold is the NRL's reigning coach-of-the-year. He deserves unqualified support to make the Broncos great again.

Instead, he risks becoming collateral damage.

The elephant in the room for the Broncos this season is the slew of club legends hovering dangerously on the edges.

For the opening months of Seibold's reign, they have maintained a careful silence, but every loss and every stumble by Brisbane will fuel of powderkeg of old-boy disenchantment that could explode if the Broncos, gulp, miss the finals this season.

 

It’s easy for former greats to call new players soft from the sidelines. Image: Peter Wallis
It’s easy for former greats to call new players soft from the sidelines. Image: Peter Wallis

 

The one thing Brisbane bosses could have guaranteed if they hired Walters was glorious goodwill. Everyone loves Kevvie. Not one club legend would have condemned a man who helped deliver five premiership for the Broncos.

If the Broncos started 1-3 this season under Walters, you can bet the likes of Tallis and Hodges would have rallied in support, urging fans to get behind 'Kevvie' in his mission to rebuild the mighty Broncos.

Seibold, rightly or wrongly, will not get the same level of love, which will only amplify the pressures on him to break the longest premiership drought in Brisbane's history.

 

Can Seibold drag Brisbane back into contention? Image: AAP Image/Darren England
Can Seibold drag Brisbane back into contention? Image: AAP Image/Darren England

 

Hodges is the perfect posterboy for the tensions surrounding Brisbane's $27 million high-performance centre which Tallis says has turned the current generation of Broncos soft.

Just four years ago, Hodges captained the Broncos in their heartbreaking 2015 grand final loss.

Now he is throwing uppercuts at the club he represented 251 times. He believes Kodi Nikorima should be axed as halfback and moved to a No.14 super-sub role to support veteran hooker Andrew McCullough.

And he believes Brisbane's board made the wrong call on the coach.

 

 

"For me personally, I would have chosen Kevvie Walters (as coach) - no doubt about that," Hodges said.

"The club and board wanted to go in a different direction with Anthony Seibold but he's going to have a lot of pressure on him.

"It's a big club and a proud club in a one-team town and there's so much pressure.

"Having someone who's been there and had the success Kevvie's had, he could install that Broncos culture."

Seibold may yet be Brisbane's cultural saviour, but it's clear he will have to dodge some friendly fire along the way.