Broncos face forwards' riddle again - Sports News - Fanatics - the world's biggest events

Broncos face forwards' riddle again

By Wayne Heming 19/02/2010 06:08:30 PM Comments (0)

Stop me if you've heard this one.

Have Brisbane got the forwards up front to win the NRL premiership or, dare I say it, even make the finals in 2010?

It's a question which critics seem to pose about the Broncos' every year.

Only this season, with boom prop Dave Taylor moving on and Brisbane down a recognised NRL prop after releasing Joel Clinton, it could have more credibility.

It was first asked in 2006 when champion front-rower Shane Webcke called it a day after taking Brisbane to its sixth premiership.

Petero Civoniceva stepped up.

When Civoniceva was squeezed out by the salary cap in 2007, a young blond-haired bull named Ben Hannant put his hand up and delivered.

And when he switched to the Bulldogs at the end of 2008, it was Nick Kenny who took his game to the next level along with boom youngster Taylor, helping Brisbane to the finals for the 19th straight year and to within one win of playing in the grand final.

Without Taylor's Rhino-like charges out wide and with the club's front-row stocks a little thin, the question is being asked yet again.

Bookmakers Sportingbet Australia have eased Brisbane's premiership odds from $15 to $19 in the past week and are offering even money about them making the top eight - the best odds they've been in over a decade.

"Punters are always confident the Broncos will be there abouts, but that early confidence is missing this year," said Sportingbet Australia chief executive Michael Sullivan, after taking a big wager on Penrith on Friday that will net one confident punter $160,000 should the Panthers take out the minor premiership-premiership double.

Kenny was not buying any of it.

"We're used to the criticism and the pressure at this time of season," said Kenny, who has been ruled out of this weekend's pre-season trial against Canberra with a slight ankle sprain.

"If you can keep the nucleus of your pack and get through the season without too many injuries, then they're the teams that play consistently.

"We feel we've got some good depth and a lot of young guys like (props) Dave Hala (107kg) and Mitchell Dodds (105kg) who are all hungry to grab their opportunities."

Kenny and Ashton Sims, finished 2009 strongly in the front-row and are Brisbane's likely starting pair with back-up from Melbourne Storm recruit Scott Anderson, Josh McGuire and Sam Thaiday who can push up if needed.

"He (Sims) is in great shape and he really finished off the season strongly last year," said Kenny.

"He's a really enthusiastic guy, he's a good talker on the field and he's aggressive as well.

"I thought towards the end of the season we struck up a really good combination in the front-row.

"We both felt comfortable and enjoyed playing alongside each other.

"I've got a lot of confidence in him and I am excited about starting the year up front with him and continuing up from last year."

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