Written by Oliver Kellner-Dunk
The Brisbane Broncos are coming off of the worst season in the club’s history in 2020, winning just three games and securing the dreaded wooden spoon for the first time for the first time ever.
New head coach Kevin Walters is looking to get the NRL’s biggest brand back to their best, and in his side’s quest to do so they will be a part of some mouth-watering matchups.
Here are the Broncos’ top five fixtures to look out for in 2021.
PARRAMATTA EELS – ROUND 1
On Friday the 12th of March the Brisbane Broncos will play their first game in the 2021 NRL season against the Parramatta Eels at Suncorp Stadium in front of (hopefully) a full house.
This fixture does not only make the list due to being the club’s first game of the Kevin Walters Era but because of their opponent.
While it would be a stretch to call this matchup a rivalry, the Broncos and Eels have put on some memorable matches in recent times, including the Eels’ 58-0 thrashing of the Broncos in the 2019 Elimination Final and the 2020 season restart’s first game where Parramatta would comfortably emerge the victors.
Heading into this one the big question will be can the Broncos finally exact their revenge against the Eels?
GOLD COAST TITANS – ROUND 2
Seven days later Brisbane will travel to the Gold Coast for a local derby against the Titans, and although the proximity between the two sides is enough to get it on this list, the battle of South East Queensland means so much more in this match.
The Brisbane Broncos believed that David Fifita would remain in maroon and gold for the entirety of his career. He has not only moved clubs but moved to one of the Broncos’ biggest rivals in the Titans.
On the other hand, former Titans players Albert Kelly, Dale Copley and David Mead have recently signed on at Red Hill and there’s a good chance they will feature in this game.
Another reason tensions will be high is the success of the Titans and failure of the Broncos, with the boys from the Gold Coast winning both games against Brisbane in 2020, flipping the “big brother/little brother” narrative on its head.
Will the Broncos be able to reclaim the Sunshine State’s south-east regions in this one?
— Brisbane Broncos (@brisbanebroncos) January 21, 2021
MELBOURNE STORM – ROUND 5
Since Brisbane defeated Melbourne in the 2006 NRL Grand Final the Broncos have failed to topple the Storm’s juggernaut in big matches on numerous occasions.
Although this fixture, in particular, will not be on the same grand scale as some of their previous meetings, if the Broncos can get the victory on Friday the second of April 2021 it will be a monumental moment in the club’s history.
Not only will they have beaten a rival in the Melbourne Storm, but the defending premiers, which would inspire this young Broncos side and give them a much-needed confidence boost to significantly improve by the end of the year.
NORTH QUEENSLAND COWBOYS – ROUND 9
In most of their matchups since the 2015 NRL Grand Final, the Cowboys and Broncos have put on a match of the year candidate in front full crowds.
The poor form of both sides in recent years certainly has not helped this rivalry; however, in 2021 there will be a different reason to watch and engage in this rivalry, pride.
As the Cowboys and Broncos are likely in for a long 2021, with fellow Queensland side the Titans favoured to finish higher than both for a second straight season, avoiding the title of the worst club in Queensland will be of paramount importance to the rivals, meaning whoever wins this game could go a long way to avoiding that label at season’s end.
WESTS TIGERS – ROUND 18
Broncos fans would like to think otherwise, but the club is entering into the first year of a long rebuild and will find themselves towards the bottom of the ladder this season.
Another club entering into a similar predicament in 2021 is the Wests Tigers who missed the finals for a ninth straight year last season and were quick to offload some experienced campaigners while bringing in talent whose impact on the side could be minimal based on past form.
When these two face off on Sunday the 18th of July it could be a wooden spoon four-pointer.