Today Sam Bourke takes a look at the optimism in the water out Bondi way, as the Sydney Roosters loo...
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Following the departure of influential coach Wayne Bennett the majority of experts expected the Broncos to struggle in season 2009, but through the success of their potent backline the Brisbane juggernaut appears to be well within the hunt for their seventh premiership title.
The appointment of Ivan Henjack as coach has allowed the Broncos to not only retain their professional style of play but has also encouraged players to adopt a creative style of play and they've shown they're not afraid to spread the ball from one side of the field to the other. However despite their daring demeanour the Broncos haven't been able to dominate the ruck as effectively as they were in previous seasons due to the inexperience of hookers such as Andrew McCullough, Aaron Gorrell and the forwards inability to put in a consistent performance over eighty minutes. Critics believe this is a reflection of certain players who are considered inconsistent but others believe this is due to the reliance of dummy half running, which negates their backline and doesn't allow the forwards to dominate. With this inability to control the ruck, their defence has often been exploited allowing teams to score cheaply by targeting the fringe of the Broncos defence. If the Broncos are going to challenge for the 2009 premiership they will need to address these problems (among others) otherwise they may face a season of disappointment.
If there was any given player that Broncos fans were excited to see it was Israel Folau and by most accounts the acquisition has proven to be a success. "Izzy" has scored eleven tries in thirteen matches making him the leading try scorer for the club and third in the NRL. However more importantly has been the confidence and security Israel has been able to provide club. Although he is not without his defensive flaws under pressure Israel shines like any class player and has constantly been seen as a beacon of reliability, strength and speed. On the other side of the fence, former St. George Illawarra enforcer Lagi Setu has failed to deliver on his potential and 2009 has seen the youngster produce a number of sloppy performances. While the season is young Setu will want to improve on his game otherwise he maybe searching for a new club in 2010.
Over the past 15 rounds the Broncos have had their share of good and bad performances. Their worst performance came in Round 12 against the Melbourne Storm. Despite supplying six of their stars to State of Origin more was expected of the boys when they went down to their southern rivals at Olympic Park. The 48-4 scoreline left a number of fans sick and questioning the commitment of their team who appeared to of surrendered after the late withdrawal of captain Darren Lockyer. On the flip side, the Broncos enjoyed their best victory over the Warriors way back in Round 3. Both teams were leading the competition when they did battle and despite their past form over in New Zealand the Broncos never appeared to be headed as they scored 26 consecutive points before they put their foot off the gas peddle and allowed the Warriors to bridge the gap by ten points. The win illuminated the perfect blend of football with reliance on good defence and attack, which has sadly fallen in recent games.
The Brisbane have a solid run heading into the finals as they prepare to face the Parramatta Eels (A), Warriors (H), South Sydney Rabbitohs (H), Gold Coast Titans (A), Canberra Raiders (A), Cronulla Sharks (H), Penrith Panthers (H), St. George Illawarra Dragons (A), North Queensland Cowboys (A) and Canberra Raiders (H).
The 2009 season has yet to see the best of the Brisbane Broncos and with a solid run into the finals the Broncos will be determined to make this season count.