2024 Preview: Brisbane Broncos

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Beth Nicholls kicks off our 2024 club-by-club preview series, looking at what Brisbane can do to go one better than last year.

Broncos look to claim revenge and redemption.

Brisbane had nearly won it all last year, coming within 15 minutes of a fairy tale season finish - then it crumbled right before their eyes.

The Broncos entered the 2023 campaign aiming to improve upon their previous season's efforts, during which they had held a top-eight position for the majority of the season before slipping to ninth place come finals time. Speculation arose regarding whether Kevin Walters was the right coach for the team and what the future held for the Brisbane side.

Thankfully, last year unfolded extremely well and they exceeded expectations. Reece Walsh returned to Red Hill and delivered remarkable performances. The team boasted a young and talented forward pack, and the halves combination was a perfect blend of foundational experience and fresh talent.

Brisbane was one win away from claiming the minor premiership and ended the year as runners-up, after being defeated by the Penrith Panthers in the Grand Final.

While the season didn't culminate with a premiership ring, it certainly restored belief within the team, marking their first Grand Final appearance since 2015.

Looking ahead to 2024, Brisbane have experienced some significant losses, with Herbie Farnworth and Tom Flegler to local rivals the Dolphins, Kurt Capewell to the Warriors, and Keenan Palasia to the Titans. They have picked up a couple of new faces though, with Fletcher Baker (Roosters) and Jaiden Hunt (Dragons) joining the team.

Although the losses may seem significant on paper, players like Corey Jensen and Brendan Piakura are more than capable of slotting into the starting forward pack, supported by long-term Broncos like Payne Haas, Jordan Riki, and Pat Carrigan. Additionally, the Broncos have a wealth of talent in the outside backs to fill the void left by Herbie Farnworth.

Las Vegas serves as the thrilling location for the Broncos' opening match, where they face the Sydney Roosters.

In the following month, they confront the Panthers in a Grand Final rematch away from home, engage in the ultimate Queensland Derby against the Cowboys at home, travel south to challenge their arch-nemesis, the Melbourne Storm, and return to Milton for the newly created ‘Battle of Brisbane'.

The run home for the Broncos appears relatively straightforward, given their capabilities demonstrated in 2023. They play the Cowboys away from home, have a bye, then return to Suncorp for the final three matches against the Eels, Dolphins (as the away team), and finally, their troublesome opponent, the Storm.

Overall, they face a reasonably challenging draw with matches against premiership heavyweights Penrith and Melbourne twice. However, they only travel away from South-East Queensland ten times throughout the season (excluding the Dolphins home game played at Suncorp), which could be viewed as an advantage. Their bye rounds are also strategically placed around the Origin season and end of the season, occurring in Rounds 13, 16, and 24.

2024 promises to be an intriguing year for the Broncos, with the players and capabilities to contend for the premiership and hopefully build upon the pain of the nightmarish ending in 2023.

Why They'll Win It

Confidence, resilience, and belief.

After spending many years in the bottom eight, the Broncos have returned as premiership contenders. The team exuded confidence throughout 2023, and despite the heartbreaking season finish, there is no indication that this confidence and belief will diminish.

The Broncos present a star-studded lineup, blending experienced players with emerging talent. The team combines experience and leadership from players like Adam Reynolds and Pat Carrigan with the electric speed and excitement of Ezra Mam and Reece Walsh.

Why They Won't

Scoring points is essential, but lapses in defense can cost the game, a challenge the Broncos are familiar with. Improving their defensive plays will be crucial for their success this year.

Additionally, it's vital for Reynolds to continue managing the game and ball-play for the team. While Mam and Walsh bring dynamic plays to the side, they are still refining their game management and require support from Reynolds to avoid acting impulsively on every opportunity.

Player Movement

2024 GainsFletcher Baker (Sydney)
Jaiyden Hunt (St George Illawarra)
Contracted for 2024Adam Reynolds, Ben Te Kura, Billy Walters, Blake Mozer, Brendan Piakura, Corey Jensen, Corey Oates, Cory Paix, Deine Mariner, Delouise Hoeter, Ezra Mam, Fletcher Baker, Jaiyden Hunt, Jesse Arthars, Jock Madden, Jordan Pereira, Jordan Riki, Kobe Hetherington, Kotoni Staggs, Martin Taupau, Patrick Carrigan, Payne Haas, Reece Walsh, Selwyn Cobbo, Tristan Sailor, Tyson Smoothy, Xavier Willison
2024 LossesLogan Bayliss (unsigned)
Keenan Palasia (Gold Coast)
Herbie Farnworth, Tom Flegler (Dolphins)
Kurt Capewell (Warriors)
DevelopmentCoby Black, Israel Leota, Josh Rogers

Key Players

As previously mentioned, Adam Reynolds, Ezra Mam, and Reece Walsh are pivotal to the team's success. These spine players blend experience with youth, bringing magic to the field with their incredible plays.

Mam recently signed a five-year extension, keeping him at Red Hill until at least 2029. Reynolds is reportedly close to signing a one-year extension, and the Broncos are confident that Walsh will remain with the club for many years.

Rookies and breakthroughs

Among the Broncos' top 30 roster, numerous youngsters are expected to receive game time this year, particularly around Origin time.

Deine Mariner made his NRL debut in 2022 and has shown promise with five tries in his four appearances in 2023. He is expected to compete for a starting wing spot as veteran Corey Oates nears retirement.

Making his NRL debut in Round 27 last year, Blake Mozer is vying with Billy Walters for the long-term hooker position. The 19-year-old has impressed in the reserve grade and captained the U19s QLD Origin team.

Predicted/Best 17

1. Reece Walsh
2. Corey Oates
3. Kotoni Staggs
4. Selwyn Cobbo
5. Jesse Arthars

6. Ezra Mam
7. Adam Reynolds (C)

8. Corey Jensen
9. Billy Walters
10. Payne Haas
11. Brendan Piakura
12. Jordan Riki
13. Pat Carrigan

Interchange: Tyson Smoothy, Kobe Hetherington, Fletcher Baker, Xavier Willison

2024 fixture list

All times AEST (Brisbane local time)

Pre 1Sun 3:00pmFeb 18thANorth QldMackay
Pre 2Sat 4:55pmFeb 24thAManly4 Pines
R1Sat 2:30pmMar 3rdASydneyAllegiant
R2Thu 7:00pmMar 14thHSouthsSuncorp
R3Thu 7:00pm
Mar 21stAPenrithBlueBet
R4Fri 7:05pmMar 29thHNorth QldSuncorp
R5Thu 7:00pmApr 4thAMelbourneAAMI
R6Fri 8:00pmApr 12thHDolphinsSuncorp
R7Sat 7:35pmApr 20thHCanberraSuncorp
R8Sat 5:30pmApr 27thAWests TigersC'town
R9Fri 8:00pmMay 3rdHSydneySuncorp
R10Fri 8:00pmMay 10thAParramattaCommBank
R11Fri 8:05pmMay 17thAManlySuncorp
R12Sun 2:00pmMay 26thHGold CoastSuncorp
R13May 30
-Jun 2
R14Sat 7:35pmJun 8thHCronullaSuncorp
R15Fri 8:00pmJun 14thASouthsAccor
R16Jun 20-23BYE
R17Sat 3:00pmJun 29thAWarriorsGo Media
R18Fri 8:00pmJul 5thHPenrithSuncorp
R19Sat 7:35pmJul 13thHSt Geo IllaSuncorp
R20Sat 5:30pmJul 20thANewcastleMcD. Jones
R21Sat 3:00pmJul 27thHCanterburySuncorp
R22Sat 3:00pmAug 3rdAGold CoastCbus Super
R23Sat 5:30pmAug 10thANorth QldQLD C. Bank
R24Aug 15-18BYE
R25Fri 8:00pmAug 23rdHParramattaSuncorp
R26Sat 5:30pmAug 31stADolphinsSuncorp
R27Thu 7:50pmSep 5thHMelbourneSuncorp