Nobody can be quite sure when the decline of the Broncos began, writes Paul Kent.
Nobody can be quite sure when the decline of the Broncos began, writes Paul Kent.

Kent: Broncos lost sight of what made them great

Nobody can be quite sure when the decline of the Broncos began. It makes you wonder if there is anybody who recognises how it must be fixed.

The smartest comments made around the Broncos in recent times have come from the ghosts of their past. Yet it is a history the current club refuses to acknowledge, which is a big part of the problem.

Where do they go, if they do not acknowledge where they come from?

 

The Broncos have shown little idea of how to fix their predicament. Photo: AAP Image/Joel Carrett
The Broncos have shown little idea of how to fix their predicament. Photo: AAP Image/Joel Carrett

 

 

The first came in April when Gorden Tallis, one of the game's great winners, a truth whisperer, put his former club up on the hoist.

"You've got to respect the past before you put that jersey on and I don't think that's happening anymore," Tallis said.

"They've got a $26 million facility and they all sit around having coffees and walking around the town like they own the place.

"They own nothing. They've won nothing."

Tallis's comments did not fit how the Broncos viewed themselves so were instantly dismissed. His radar was perfect, though.

 

Has Seibold failed the Broncos — or have the Broncos failed Seibold? Photo: AAP Image/Glenn Hunt
Has Seibold failed the Broncos — or have the Broncos failed Seibold? Photo: AAP Image/Glenn Hunt

 

The arrogance of the playing group, collectively, is in everything they do.

Their Saturday night just gone went something like this:

Aware his team was down on confidence coach Anthony Seibold prepared a video of their 2019 highlights. It was a bid, you think, to inspire something in a team down on confidence and well down on performance.

Seibold knew his Broncos were under siege. They fell into the finals, losing more games than they won, and were not anywhere near the imposing club that made the Broncos famous.

The players sat through their highlights video and, apparently, thought so little of what they just saw, and what was needed against Parramatta, that half the team then headed to the pub, where some played the pokies.

Yes, the Queen of the Nile is a cruel temptress. They played her late into the night and into the next day.

Here it all becomes about small advantages.

 

The club built a shrine to its success — but forgot to earn it. Photo: AAP Image/Claudia Baxter
The club built a shrine to its success — but forgot to earn it. Photo: AAP Image/Claudia Baxter

 

The Broncos went to the Queensland government for support to help build their $26 million facility because they believed the small advantages a specialised high performance centre would bring might be the difference between winning and losing.

The Queensland government felt it was important enough to the people of Brisbane that they tipped in. The Broncos club believed it was important enough to tip in the rest.

Everybody believed it was important enough except, it seems, the players, who have little respect for what others are doing for them.

One of the hidden treats in the high performance centre was a sleep room. It was a darkened room with beds and blankets and pillows, flown in from America and specifically customised to each player according to weight and how they slept.

It was a recognition of the importance of sleep in preparation. The small advantage the Broncos were chasing and a sign of the professionalism the club was famous for.

Except it was a myth.

 

Matt Gillett with his custom fit pillow and mattress at the Broncos’ sleep centre. Photo: Liam Kidston.
Matt Gillett with his custom fit pillow and mattress at the Broncos’ sleep centre. Photo: Liam Kidston.

 

If a good sleep was important enough for the club to go to such lengths, why were the players out the night before a game?

This exposed the inherent weakness in the playing group. They are oblivious to the reality.

Or it speaks to a darker truth that spells great trouble for Brisbane.

Has Seibold lost the players?

If so, it is catastrophic for a club that banked its future on the new club and who has just finished his first season in a six-year deal.

Seibold certainly had no idea the players were out.

The trip to the pub showed where the players heads were at.

This disconnect is trouble for a club that is at perhaps the most crucial time in its history.

 

This great club must rebuild its culture from scratch. Photo: Mark Metcalfe/Getty Images
This great club must rebuild its culture from scratch. Photo: Mark Metcalfe/Getty Images

There is more truth in their Parramatta loss than there is in their eighth-placed finish.

For the first time the once great club is in danger of becoming a secondary consideration, a middle-of-the-table team.

It is something the Broncos have always been successful avoiding, something they acknowledged and deliberately set about putting in place measures

"Once a football franchise starts to go down, it requires 10 times the energy to get it back up again," Barry Maranta said in The Courier-Mail.

Maranta, an original owner, loomed as the second ghost from their past.

"Think of South Sydney," he said, "who required street marches and Russell Crowe's millions to rescue the club.

"That's why the original founders (Steve Williams, Gary Balkin, Paul Morgan and Maranta) were so fastidious about not letting the Broncos go into decline.

"Once a business starts to go down, you have massive problems and stress. Why we worked so aggressively to get everything right was to avoid the Broncos struggling."

Empires come and go and their decline is only ever understood properly in hindsight.

The Broncos, once the NRL's great empire, don't have the resilience to overcome it. This current version, anyway.

 

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