The Broncos play their first trial match in four weeks – but their 2023 campaign is already in danger of imploding after the off-season from hell.
A series of unrelated off-field incidents have caused so much concern that Broncos CEO Dave Donaghy fronted the media on Thursday in a bid to bring some stability to the ship.
The club’s marquee player, Payne Haas, has taken indefinite leave from training after his mother was charged with three counts of manslaughter following a shocking car crash on the Gold Coast last week.
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Talented forward TC Robati has been stood down in the wake of charges arising from an incident at a nightclub and big-name signing Reece Walsh was tossed out of a Gold Coast club last week following an altercation with Titans back-rower David Fifita.
Add to that the departure of highly rated utility back Tesi Niu to Wayne Bennett’s Dolphins this week and it’s clear to see why Broncos coach Kevin Walters must be sweating.
A few weeks ago experts were looking at the Broncos as a top four chance – now Walters will be wondering if his contract, which expires at year’s end, will be renewed if order is not restored.
To add to his woes, the Broncos have lost a host of experience, with Brenko Lee (Dolphins), David Mead (retired), Te Maire Martin (Warriors), Ryan James (retired), Tyson Gamble (Knights), Jake Turpin (Roosters) and Zac Hosking (Panthers) all joining Niu in leaving Red Hill.
Walsh is the only ‘name’ player to come into the club.
Despite the many dramas, Donaghy said the club did not have discipline problems and had actually worked on their attitude over the summer.
“We’ve got a really strong culture, a culture that cares … it’s a great privilege to play for the Broncos and it comes with great responsibilities too,” he said.
“We’ve done a lot of work in terms of our values and standards. To me, that underpins the culture.
“We’ve got some really strong and capable leaders. They’re leading the charge with this group.
“It was important to get the playing group back after a break. They’ve trained really hard and had a well-deserved break.
“They’re coming back in, there’s a line in the sand and opportunity to build over the next four weeks until the first trial.
“I don’t have any concerns over the next seven weeks. Kev’s been really clear from the outset of pre-season what’s required of these guys. We’ve got lofty goals and want to see continued progress.
“Given where we finished last year (ninth) and the progress we saw across the entire club … if we continue that we will see us achieve something we haven’t been able to for some time (play finals football). That’s our goal.
“The guys are clear. Kev’s addressed it and Adam (Reynolds, captain) will address it. They’ve got my full support around that.
“I addressed it early in the pre-season and don’t believe I need to again.”
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