Anthony Seibold gives a colourful description of life in the NRL after his team’s 1-3 start to the season. Picture: AAP/Darren England.
Anthony Seibold gives a colourful description of life in the NRL after his team’s 1-3 start to the season. Picture: AAP/Darren England.

QLD NRL clubs off to worst start in history

NOT everyone in Queensland would be upset about Anthony Seibold's less-than-stellar start at the Broncos. Paul Green and Garth Brennan must be ecstatic.

With so much fuss about Brisbane's shaky opening to the season nobody seems to be paying much attention to what is happening at the Cowboys and Titans, which is just as well for their coaches because it isn't pretty.

The biggest question in rugby league right now seems to be: what's wrong with the Broncos?

It should be what's wrong with Queensland?

For years Queensland has been touted as the backbone of rugby league. It dominated State of Origin, had the biggest crowds, the best stadium.

The Broncos and Cowboys were perennial heavyweights, routinely anchored at the top end of the premiership ladder.

Right now, not so much.

Horror start ... Cowboys’ Origin stars Matt Scott, Gavin Cooper, Coen Hess and Michael Morgan having a bad night out against the Sharks. Picture: Zak Simmonds
Horror start ... Cowboys’ Origin stars Matt Scott, Gavin Cooper, Coen Hess and Michael Morgan having a bad night out against the Sharks. Picture: Zak Simmonds

In the first four rounds the three Queensland clubs played a total of 12 games - and lost 10 of them.

It is their worst combined start to a season since the Titans entered the competition in 2007.

Individually it isn't much better.

The Titans' 0-4 record is the worst start in the club's history. Even in their first season they managed to win their fourth game, against the Panthers.

The Broncos have only once previously in that 12-year period got off to 1-4 start, back in 2007.

The Cowboys, on the other hand, have suffered through five previous 1-4 starts in 2008, 2009, 2013, 2015 (when they won the premiership) and, worryingly, last season.

Dejected Broncos players after the SCG massacre. Picture: AAP
Dejected Broncos players after the SCG massacre. Picture: AAP

I say worryingly because 2018 was a watershed year in the club's history: the last season they would have the services of their greatest-ever player, their talisman and match-winner. The great Johnathan Thurston.

In other words, they had a full year to prepare for life without him.

Now obviously you can't just replace a player like JT. They don't grow on trees. They come along once in a lifetime.

To have another player like that emerge just as JT was coming to the end of his career would be like winning Lotto.

Which is pretty much what happened when the Cowboys got their hands on Kalyn Ponga before anyone else.

And let him go. Just like the Bulldogs did when Thurston joined the Cowboys in 2005.

The one that got away ... the sight of Kalyn Ponga in Knights colours adds to Cowboys pain. Picture: AAP/Darren Pateman.
The one that got away ... the sight of Kalyn Ponga in Knights colours adds to Cowboys pain. Picture: AAP/Darren Pateman.

No doubt Cowboys management would tell their supporters that they tried everything possible to keep Ponga at the club in the face of a massive offer from the Newcastle Knights.

No doubt after the start the Cowboys have had to the season and the way Ponga has flourished over the past two years their supporters would say: you should have tried harder.

Needless to say the Cowboys have had plenty of bad luck this season. They lost big signing Ben Barba before a game had been played and key forward Jason Taumalolo minutes into the Round 2 loss to the Broncos.

Even so, this is still a side with plenty of Origin and Test experience in players such as Michael Morgan, Matt Scott, Josh McGuire, Gavin Cooper and Coen Hess.

The big question is over the doubtful quality of the backline and how, with the advance knowledge of Thurston's departure, the club let it happen.

Jai Arrow takes it up against the Warriors. Not even a strong squad can prevent the Titans worst-ever start. Picture: Fiona Goodall/Getty Images
Jai Arrow takes it up against the Warriors. Not even a strong squad can prevent the Titans worst-ever start. Picture: Fiona Goodall/Getty Images

The situation at the Titans is different. They have never tasted success on a consistent basis. Their only finals appearances were in 2009 and 2010 - when they were eliminated one week short of the grand final. The next year they collected the wooden spoon.

But this year was going to be different. In Brennan's second season in charge the new owners opened the purse strings to strengthen playing personnel and brought in Mal Meninga to instil pride and culture.

Rarely, with players such as Michael Gordon, Anthony Don, Tyrone Peachey, Brian Kelly, Tyrone Roberts, Ashley Taylor, Jarrod Wallace, Ryan James, Kevin Proctor, Jai Arrow, AJ Brimson and Shannon Boyd have the Titans fielded such a strong squad.

Never have they had a poorer start to a season.

Ironically, the Queensland coach copping the hardest time from fans and media is the only one with a plausible excuse for his team's insipid form.

Seibold is the only newcomer; the only one going through the process of initiating his players in a new way of thinking and playing the game.

As he put it so colourfully this week: "Sometimes you swim in a pot of honey and sometimes you are swimming in a pool of s**t. It's a week-to-week thing in the NRL."

No question about which one the Queensland teams are swimming in at the moment.

News Corp Australia


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