Brisbane Broncos, NRL 2021: 8 players facing axe, player exodus, Kevin Walters
The Brisbane Broncos are facing a mass exodus of stars as the club desperately attempts to reignite its flailing fortunes in the NRL.
The Brisbane Broncos dire predicament in the NRL is heading towards some tough decisions with up to eight more players set to be cut loose by the club.
That’s according to The Daily Telegraph’s Dean Ritchie, who told Sky Sports Radio’s Big Sports Breakfast that the axe appears to be being sharpened at the club.
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It comes as the Broncos sit in last on the NRL ladder, behind the Canterbury Bulldogs on points differential only but four wins out of the top eight.
While the Broncos do have a bye in hand, it’s far from familiar territory for Brisbane with the biggest club in the NRL missing the finals just five times in 33 seasons.
The club has never been to the depths it’s currently going through however, with the goal for the remainder of the season to avoid back-to-back wooden spoons.
After news that Ben Ikin would join the club as the new head of football, the departing Fox Sports host will have his work cut out for his straight off the bat as the Broncos look to fix its roster.
“It’s an absolute rabble up there isn’t it?” Ritchie began. “It’s almost a shame that such a proud club is on its knees.
“It was news in the last couple of days that Tevita Pangai would leave, but believe me, I think he’ll just be the first of many.
“Where do I start … Alex Glenn, I think his time appears up, John Asiata, Dale Copley, Ben Te’o, all off contract, they could all go. This is a decision Ben Ikin, Brisbane’s new head of football, will have to make.
“It doesn’t end there though. There’s mail that Jamayne Isaako is struggling to find a new deal, Brodie Croft, Corey Oates is another one, Richie Kennar is another one so the list just grows and grows and grows.
“Look, clearly you can’t get rid of every player, you’ve got to field a team, but a lot of players up there under a lot of pressure. Maybe this is just the clean out that they have to have.”
It comes as criticism continues on the Broncos and new coach Kevin Walters allowing Reece Walsh to walk, as he now prepares for his State of Origin debut after just seven first grade games with the New Zealand Warriors.
Walters has also faced criticism from within after reports of a player revolt.
Another player who has already been told his services are no longer needed is Matt Lodge, however he hit back at the club saying if they don’t want him, seeing he’s contracted until 2024, they have to sort out a transfer, according to The Courier Mail.
But players reportedly spoke to the newspaper as well, reportedly finding Walters “awkward” with his communication as well as “vague and inconsistent in his messaging” as well as failing to deliver feedback.
It’s hardly a positive report card for Walters’ first year as an NRL head coach.
The Broncos have been linked to the likes of Josh Hodgson, Dale Finucane, Jaydn Su’A and Kurt Capewell but so far only unwanted Souths half Adam Reynolds and Storm centre Brenko Lee’s deals have come to pass, as well as Kotoni Staggs re-signing, after the Eels and Titans both pulled out of the hunt for his signature.
It’s far from the pulling power of the Broncos of old.
“It’s funny, in years gone by, players would love to be poached and headhunted by the Brisbane Broncos, it was like one of the greatest honours in the game to think that the Broncos were interested in you,” Ritchie added. “Now a lot of players are being offered up a chance to go to Brisbane and they’re knocking it back, they just don’t want to be part of the club the way it stands at the moment.”
Big Sports Breakfast host Laurie Daley said it was a bad sign for the game that the Broncos are struggling so mightily.
“For the good of the game, for Origin, for the competition itself and the threat of AFL, you need to the Broncos to be strong and they are a massive club,” he said. “You are right, it was a badge of honour if you were offered a contract at the Brisbane Broncos. That is not happening at the moment.
“You hear of the Broncos wanting to get rid of all these players and reset and start again, so it’s a big job in front of them.”