The Broncos players said to have whinged about Kevin Walters unleashing an old-fashion spray in the sheds may have just copped their harshest wake-up call yet.
While Broncos great Gorden Tallis said on Triple M they “couldn’t have made it in my era” and “I don’t want to play with that guy”, another legendary rugby league tough nut in Paul Gallen has told them to “suck it up”.
Rugby league reporter Ben Dobbin said on Triple M that some players were “upset” at Walters’ reaction to the team’s latest capitulation, in which the Broncos were trounced 53-6 by the Eels in Brisbane last Thursday night.
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That result followed a 60-12 belting at the hands of the Storm in Brisbane the week prior.
The Broncos finished every round from nine through to 23 inside the top eight, and after round 19 were placed fourth, but they’re now floundering in ninth ahead of their last game of the regular season.
The Broncos now essentially need to beat the Dragons and have Wests Tigers defeat the Raiders if they are to qualify for the finals in eighth spot.
When the report of the complaining Brisbane players was raised on Nine’s 100% Footy on Monday night, Gallen did not hold back.
“Look, if that’s true I think they need to suck it up a little bit. I mean, they missed 52 tackles. The coach isn’t out there missing 52 tackles. That was when they got beaten by 50 (points),” Gallen said.
“They had 60 (points) put on them the week before. They probably missed 50 (tackles) again that game. I think when you’re missing that many tackles and you’re getting 100-odd points put on you two weeks in a row … you deserve a spray. I think they just need to suck it up a little bit and get on with it.”
Gallen noted the four-match suspension dealt to a potential future captain of the Broncos, gun lock Patrick Carrigan, had thwarted Brisbane late in the regular season.
But the 348-game NRL icon said missing the finals would still be inexcusable.
“Look, they have had some issues. Carrigan going down for them was a huge loss … getting that four-week suspension. But being in the top four (at the end of) round 19 and probably missing the eight — it’s a fail,” Gallen said.
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“When you look at them from the start of the season … if you had have said the Broncos would be fighting over the last round of the competition to make the eight, (considering) where they’ve been the past couple of years I probably would have said that’s a pass mark.
“But I think athletes and coaches and everyone throughout the season or throughout their career re-evaluate their goals and where they’re at.
“I think (considering after) round 19 being in the top four, there’s no doubt they should have been inside the top eight.
“So to miss it I think would be a failed season for them.”
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The Broncos collected the wooden spoon in 2020 and finished in 14th last season, before a seven-match winning run catapulted them into the top four this year.
Brisbane racked up more than 30 points in five of those games, as Adam Reynolds, Selwyn Cobbo, Corey Oates, Kotoni Staggs and Te Maire Martin spearheaded a blistering attack.
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But Phil Gould believes the Broncos’ firing attack set their demise in motion.
“When they soared to where they were in the middle of the season in the top four they were scoring some brilliant tries and all of a sudden people were commenting on their attacking and their athleticism and their skill … Adam Reynolds doing this,” Gould said on 100% Footy.
“I’m sure earlier in the year their focus was defence. Their focus was putting up a wall, standing shoulder to shoulder, not allowing the opposition to come through, trying to dominate their opposition, defend their line with pride and defend their line stoically.
“I think with all the raps they got in the middle part of the year the focus has turned back to the attack and defensively they’ve just dropped away incredibly.
“That’s eaten into their confidence and, as I say, their togetherness. There’s no togetherness there at the moment. They’re not all fighting for the same thing. They think they are — they’re not.”
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