Coach Henjak praises Bronco youth - Sports News - Fanatics - the world's biggest events

Coach Henjak praises Bronco youth

By Wayne Heming 18/08/2010 04:08:05 PM Comments (0)

Whether or not Brisbane keep their remarkable streak of finals campaigns alive next month coach Ivan Henjak will be happy with the effort from the club's department of youth.

Brisbane resume their bid for a 19th successive finals campaign when they meet Newcastle on Friday night with a team containing 11 players aged 22 or younger.

With 33-year-old skipper Darren Lockyer out indefinitely with a rib cartilage injury, the average age of Brisbane's backline is just 21.1 years.

And the average age of their 17-man squad this weekend - including 28-year-old forwards Corey Park and Shane Tronc - is only 22.2 years.

It's been a tremendous coaching performance by Henjak in just his second season as head coach to bring so many youngsters through and maintain a finals push given the long-term injury absence of Justin Hodges and off-season losses of Karmichael Hunt and Dave Taylor (South Sydney).

The Broncos slipped to eighth on the ladder with an 11-10 record after their last-start loss to Parramatta.

Henjak wants them to be part of the September action but he won't consider 2010 a failure if, in the tightest premiership race in decades, the Broncos' finals streak comes to an end.

"Whatever happens this year, I'm really pleased with what they've done," Henjak told AAP.

"Those kids have done an enormous job.

"It doesn't matter what happens this year, if they make it (finals) they've done one hell of a job; if they don't, I still think they've done that.

"I'd probably have to be honest and say they've achieved more than what they did last year because of the players they haven't had around them."

Brisbane's season got off to a horror start (2-6) but it was the young players who stepped up to post the club's best-ever results during the testing State of Origin series.

Henjak said Brisbane could be like a few teams who may end up saying "if only we'd won that one" - like the game against the Tigers when the Broncos led until the last 10 seconds.

"It could be one those years," he said.

"We've gone from being a premiership threats to (talk of) missing the finals in just one week.

"We have to live with people reminding us we are in danger of missing the finals for the first time in 19 seasons, because we've put ourselves in that position."

Henjak has the comfort of knowing that next season is looking even brighter.

With the emergence of youngsters Josh Hoffman (22), Jharal Yow Yeh (20), Ben Hunt (20) Andrew McCullough (20) and rookie-of-the-year Matt Gillett (22) and the recruitment of prop Ben Hannant and superstar centre Greg Inglis along with a fit Hodges, bookmakers have already installed Brisbane early favourites to win the premiership in 2011.

Brought to you by AAP AAP © 2021 AAP

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