While the Broncos battle the Lions are roaring.
While the Broncos battle the Lions are roaring.

Crash Tackle: Rival ready to stalk Broncos’ fan base

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

OFFSIDE: SWINGIN FANS TURN TO AFL

Don't worry about a second Brisbane team - Queensland's three underperforming NRL clubs are being stalked by real flesh and blood.

The revitalised Brisbane Lions, with two wins out of three games on the back of their breakthrough 2019, are shaping as a premiership force and sure-fire crowd magnet when the gates are flung fully open in the post-COVID era.

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And the Gold Coast Suns have stunned the football world over the past fortnight with shock performances against the West Coast Eagles and Adelaide Crows.

With the Broncos losing their last four, the Titans winning one match in a year and the Cowboys again stumbling badly, there is precious little to excite Sunshine State league fans, meaning the balance of power in Queensland football is changing.

Rusted-on leaguies will never jump the fence but there is thought to be about 10,000 floating fans in Brisbane who will turn up and cheer for whoever is hot.

Right now that is the Lions, who are in for boom times when full crowds return.

 

UP AND AT THEM

Who would you rather get off-side with … your coach or the commentators calling the game?

Video analysers of the Broncos have noticed that they appear to have a plan for the defender marking the opposition playmaker to rush out of the defensive line to try and shut him down.

Sounds great in theory but lumbering Matt Lodge copped a spray from commentators for darting out of the line and being hopelessly wrong-footed by Mitchell Pearce in the Knights' final try when he may have simply been following orders.

MAN UP

Anthony Seibold is a fan of Justin Langer, who is a fan of the Zen culture that has produced so many inspiring quotes.

We have found the perfect quote for Seibold to read to his short-fused, reckless players like Tevita Pangai Jr, Lodge and even Pat Carrigan, who launched a late shot on Pearce on Thursday.

"You can never climb life's greatest mountains unless you can first conquer its small frustrations."

In other words, if you can't keep a lid on your saucepan during routinely niggling match play, you'll never be cool enough to handle the big moments.

 

Stephen Kearney has been axed as Warriors coach. Picture: Dan Himbrechts/AAP
Stephen Kearney has been axed as Warriors coach. Picture: Dan Himbrechts/AAP

 

WHAT A COP OUT

The sacking of Steve Kearney as Warriors coach says a lot about the restless, reckless state of rugby league.

And the dangers of private ownership where one man's whim can defy natural justice.

The Warriors have faced all sorts of emotional and practical issues since they selflessly agreed to move to Australia yet they have still conjured two wins from four games in the post-pandemic part of the season.

Six months ago, Kearney was given a multi-year extension.

Suddenly he is gone at a cost of $2 million. And they wonder why clubs go broke. And why, on earth, were the players not even consulted beforehand?

ONSIDE: HAPPY HOOKERS

Queensland has a proud tradition of producing exceptional hookers and the tradition is continuing.

Roosters rake Jake Friend is likely to make his State of Origin debut this year but snapping at his heels are Parramatta hustler Reed Mahoney and Wests Tigers' Harry Grant. All three are worthy options.

 

Jake Friend has been in great form for the Roosters. Picture: Phil Hillyard
Jake Friend has been in great form for the Roosters. Picture: Phil Hillyard

 

INSIDE STORY

From Paul Green's hot-blooded halftime spray to Latrell Mitchell's post-match tears, rugby league gains so much from its camera access to dressingrooms.

Long may it continue. The above images were far more entertaining and relevant than most of the "say a lot but say nothing" press conferences during the week.

Green must be careful though. There is a fine line between turning a side up and turning them off.

GOLD-COATED

Is there any better sight than a dynamic speedster in full flight?

People are still talking about how well Broncos flyer Xavier Coates moved across the ground in his intercept try against Newcastle, making even Kalyn Ponga abandon the chase after feeling like a FJ Holden chasing a Ferrari.

 

Xavier Coates in full flight for the Broncos. Picture: Grant Trouville/NRL Photos
Xavier Coates in full flight for the Broncos. Picture: Grant Trouville/NRL Photos

 

STELLAR STANDARD

Rugby league's salary cap has done its job so well that for two decades the NRL produced a different premier each year - then along came the Roosters.

They have won it twice in a row and could easily make it three given the breathtaking standard they showed in beating Parramatta on Saturday.

As much as we all rejoice in how the salary cap has levelled the field, it's a nice change to have a team who, much like the All Blacks in rugby, are bulldozing everything in their path and is the side everyone wants to beat.

Originally published as Crash Tackle: Rival ready to stalk Broncos' fan base


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