Brisbane are drowning in their own self-deception
Everyone should have a Les Hobbs in their life.
Shoots straight, honest and without agenda. Les was the guy when Steve Roach walked off the field one day in 1992, still with a year still to run on his contract but his legs were old. Les Hobbs, filled with truth, tapped him on the shoulder.
"It's time," he said.
If it had been anybody else, Roach said as late as last week, he might have jobbed him at the great insult. Instead he took about a week to absorb what Les had told him and then he quietly informed the Balmain Tigers he would be retiring at the end of the season.
The problem for Darius Boyd is the Les Hobbs in his life now coaches at South Sydney. Wayne Bennett can't be honest with Boyd without being accused of meddling in another club's business.
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Boyd was once one of the game's great champions but now, like autumn wine, he is in the final year of his career and doing all he can to make it through to the end.
Nobody at the club can be honest with him because the Broncos can't be honest with themselves.
Boyd is using all his guile to survive. He overplays his part in defence, rushing up quickly from centre so a quick thinking playmaker in the opposition will see that side closed off and turn the ball back in.
It appears clever but redirects the pressure to his defenders inside him. And ups the pressure because Boyd has abandoned the system.
It's like that old jockey who retired, he said, because the older you get the harder the ground gets.
Brisbane's problem is no longer recognising it but how to deal with it given the rest of the joint already crumbling.
The Broncos are riddled with a lack of belief at the moment.
It is mostly forgivable because it is mostly unintentional. They believe they are doing their best, but do not know that they do not know. That is the heart of their problem.
Seibold, though, betrayed the club after Brisbane's 59-0 loss to the Sydney Roosters last Thursday.
Among the empty platitudes was a curious quote, volunteered by Seibold.
From nowhere he seemingly plucked an obscure game in 2016 when Melbourne walloped the Roosters 46-0 and Seibold, with stunning recollection, recalled that the Roosters once suffered a similar shortfall.
"I remember them talking about having seven players under 40 games on that particular day," he said. "We had 10 players under 30 tonight and we had two making their debut."
Apparently unbeknown, his media department had already circulated similar figures around the press room that night identifying Brisbane's lack of experience (990 games) compared to the Roosters (2115 games).
The precise recollection shows Seibold, the great hope, and the Broncos spent at least some of last week preparing for the loss.
That was never the Broncos' way.
The Broncos came into the NRL in 1988 and were privileged immediately but, to their credit, they quickly fulfilled that privilege by giving the Brisbane fans five premierships in their first 13 seasons.
They earned the right.
But Seibold wants it both ways. He offers lack of experience as an excuse but also appoints Pat Carrigan as skipper after just 19 games, with 17 of those off the bench.
More, since arriving at Brisbane Seibold has released, before their contracts ended, Andrew McCullough (260 games), Josh McGuire (194 games), James Roberts (131 games), Kodi Nikorima (86 games), Korbin Sims (120 games) and Jaydn Su'a (31 games).
The Broncos will argue they needed to clear salary cap space to retain David Fifita and Payne Haas and Matt Lodge and Tevita Pangai and all those hot young forwards they possess.
They are the most talented young forward pack in the NRL but the cost of recruiting them, and paying them all well, is the loss of experienced players.
Every club realises it is a balance but Seibold, perhaps backed by the length of his contract, chose to take a different route.
Darren Lockyer was recently recruited to help the club's leadership and, over the weekend, a small brawl erupted between Matt Lodge and former captain Gorden Tallis.
Matt Lodge responded by putting the offer to Tallis to come along and help them rather than criticise them.
Already on staff with Lockyer (355 games) are other 347-gamer Corey Parker and Justin Hodges (251 games).
If they can't tip to these modern Broncos, what more could the likes of Tallis and others who have been made feel unwelcome at the club in recent years offer?
Until the Broncos are honest about their problems, and how to fix them, they will remain a club without answers.
You can be sure of one thing Les Hobbs wouldn't go near the joint.
Originally published as Brisbane are drowning in their own self-deception