Written by Oliver Kellner-Dunk
The Brisbane Broncos in 2022 is viewed by many in a negative light due to their poor end to the season.
At the end of round 19 the Broncos were in the top four and then the unthinkable happened with Kevin Walters’ side losing five of their last six games and conceding 201 points on their way to missing the top eight entirely.
While this was a horrible way to end the season Brisbane played well above expectations for the majority of the year and still ended up having a better 2022 than many had tipped them to have at the beginning of the year.
If the Broncos dreadful run of form had happened at any other point in the season and they had finished strong and ended up in the same position then fans would be more optimistic about their chances heading into next year but they are currently under a lot of pressure with plenty of doubters.
However, they are favourites to make the top eight next season and deservedly so as we now know just how dominant this team can be.
For the first time since at least 2019 the Broncos have an undeniable top-eight core with Adam Reynolds at halfback and a strong forward pack and while they also had this heading into last season there were question marks around the form Reynolds would bring to Redhill and the consistency of certain forwards, but with the knowledge that at their best this group can match any team in the competition, Brisbane should be feeling confident next year.
Reynolds also managed to have a big 2022 with a rookie halves partner in Ezra Mam who showed a glimpse of great things to come but this time around their chemistry should be much stronger with Reynolds knowing who his halves partner will be week in and week out from the get-go, which wasn’t the case last season, and the two have the opportunity to train together for the entire offseason.
Mam has also worked on building muscle as last year, he was bullied by opposing defences and recently spoke to the Broncos media team.
“Being my second year I’ll probably get targeted more,” said Mam.
“I’ve done a lot in the offseason to get my weight up and that’s something that is going to help me more, carrying muscle mass and body weight.”
Last season Brisbane’s outside backs were also a revelation with Selwyn Cobbo playing himself into a Queensland State of Origin jersey in his first full season in the NRL and Corey Oates having a career renaissance.
At the start of 2022 Oates publicly admitted that he was doubting whether or not he could still play at a high level and despite being one of the Queensland Cup’s best players in 2021 Cobbo would not have believed he had it in him to play as good as he did upon becoming a permanent member of Brisbane’s first-grade squad, but this time around both players know just how good they can be and will be confident that they can deliver next season.
Reece Walsh is returning to the Broncos from the New Zealand Warriors where individually he had as strong a season as he could have in a poor side.
Walsh is the likely candidate to play at fullback and with a strong side in front of him for the first time in his NRL career after moving back home to Brisbane he has got to be in a stronger mental state and believe in his ability more than if he were still a Warrior.
Brisbane have the ability throughout their squad to make the top eight in 2023 and in the past have shown that they can put in the effort but what makes them more of a threat to the other teams in and around the eight next season is their self-belief and confidence, something they would not have had a whole lot of heading into last season but should have in abundance heading into next season.