Brisbane can no longer use youth as an excuse for limited success. (Photo by Bradley Kanaris/Getty Images)
Brisbane can no longer use youth as an excuse for limited success. (Photo by Bradley Kanaris/Getty Images)

Rookie tag won’t cut it for Broncos

THE heat is on the young Broncos to go from being "just rookies" to "first graders" this season.

Brisbane has one of the youngest sides in the NRL in 2019, with an average age of 23 across their top 30 squad.

The Broncos have also lost the experience of Josh McGuire and Jordan Kahu to the Cowboys in the pre-season and Sam Thaiday to retirement last year.

Former NRL greats have now called on the young Brisbane stars, which includes the likes of Payne Haas, 19, Tevita Pangai Jnr, 22, to graduate into dominant first graders.

Penrith legend and former NSW halfback Greg Alexander said it was time for the young guys to step up this season.

"Brisbane's young players are in a similar position to Penrith's young players, where they have been young for three years," he said.

"It's time for them to graduate to being an accountable first grader, not just a rookie. It's time to take the next step.

"Guys like Tevita (Pangai Jnr) and Joe Ofahengaue are getting to around 50 games, (Anthony) Milford has played 140, I don't class him as young anymore. Milford is not young, he is there to run the team and be a leader.

Greg Alexander says the club’s youth must step up in 2019. (Photo by Jason McCawley/Getty Images)
Greg Alexander says the club’s youth must step up in 2019. (Photo by Jason McCawley/Getty Images)

"It's the young forwards who have been exciting but they need to become dominant first graders."

The young pack has been complemented this off-season with the appointment of several fresh faces on the coaching staff, including new head coach Anthony Seibold.

Fullback Darius Boyd, 31, hooker Andrew McCullough, 29, and forwards Matt Gillett, 30, and Alex Glenn, 30, now remain as the more experienced players at Red Hill.

Former Bronco, and the youngest player to play State of Origin, Ben Ikin said it would be up to coach Seibold on getting the most out of his young players.

Brisbane’s young brigade boast enough experience to excel this season. (Photo by Mark Kolbe/Getty Images)
Brisbane’s young brigade boast enough experience to excel this season. (Photo by Mark Kolbe/Getty Images)

"The big question mark will be whether this cracking group of young forwards can take the next step," Ikin said.

"They look fearsome and very talented but it takes a special kind of person to play in the middle for the full length of the NRL season.

"That's what Seibs (Anthony Seibold) will have to manage, how long he can keep those guys up early in their career. No doubting their talents, but the mental strength to keep playing your best footy for a long period of time is really difficult."

Queensland Origin legend Justin Hodges believed the youthfulness of the club provided some healthy competition for the players.

"I think it's a good thing," he said.

"It's going to be healthy for competition sake. When you've got a lot of competition for opening spots, it just makes everyone train better, play better.

"Now, even in the halves, you've got Sean O'Sullivan there. It just puts everyone on edge. If you have two or three bad games, there's someone willing to take your spot."