Ladder position: Third
Points for: 597
Points against: 433
Top try scorer: James Roberts (18 tries)
Home record: 9-3
Away record: 7-5
Putting away the seventh-seeded Penrith Panthers in a home semi-final may not rank as a traditional season highlight but it took exceptional guts for a wounded Brisbane Broncos unit to fight their way to the preliminary final.
Going into half time with just a 6-0 lead, and without State of Origin winger Corey Oates, Brisbane found a quick try after the break for James Roberts before Jordan Kahu sealed it with a field goal.
It’s not going to rank among the all-time Broncos finals wins but it was the season highlight in a year marred by injuries.
Latrell Mitchell’s try in the 75th minute of the qualifying final was 2017’s sliding doors moment for Brisbane.
Had that try not been scored and converted, the Bronx would’ve hosted a preliminary against the North Queensland Cowboys instead of embarking on the game’s toughest road trip to face the Melbourne Storm.
Don’t go watching that try again Brisbane fans. All you’ll see is James Roberts being shoved off embarrassingly easily and a poor tackle attempt from Darius Boyd.
What went right?
The Broncos’ traditional home ground advantage was no lesser this year, going 9-3 on the season.
They also only lost to two non-finals teams, the Canterbury-Bankstown Bulldogs in round five and against the New Zealand Warriors during State of Origin.
What went wrong?
The Mitchell try should never have been scored. Sorry to bring that up again.
Continuing on the Sydney Roosters theme, Brisbane lost both their home and away fixtures against them by two points. Had they have been victorious on one of those occasions then they may well have been preparing for a Grand Final.
Nobody stood out like they usually do for the Bronx but Josh McGuire was hard to ignore, having ranked second at the club in run metres and third in tackles.
Tautau Moga enjoyed a breakout year while Matt Gillett, Oates and Anthony Milford also impressed but McGuire consistently set the physical tone for Brisbane as their best forward.
The club debuted two rookies this year, forward George Fai and utility back Jamayne Isaako, both playing just one game so we will leave this award up to you.
Recruitment for 2018
2018 gains: Jack Bird (Cronulla-Sutherland Sharks), Andre Savelio (Warrington Wolves)
2018 losses: Jai Arrow (Gold Coast Titans), Herman Ese’ese (Newcastle Knights), Keegan Hipgrave (Gold Coast), Ben Hunt (St. George-Illawarra Dragons), Matiu Love-Henry (Warriors), Benji Marshall (Wests Tigers), Tautau Moga (Newcastle), Francis Molo (released)
It’s almost been one way traffic out of Brisbane ahead of 2018 with the club struggling just to re-sign star players such as Alex Glenn, Jordan Kahu and Andrew McCullough.
As a result, the Broncos will lose a lot of their depth next year. Important players from this campaign such as Jai Arrow, Herman Ese’ese and Moga are all on their way out of the club.
By far the biggest hit comes at half-back, with representative superstar Hunt signing with the St. George-Illawarra Dragons for next year.
His partnership and tutelage of Milford has been vital for the Bronx’ success over the past few years, and his ability to step into hooker when McCullough went down was pivotal.
It remains to be seen how Hunt will be replaced. Kodi Nikorima is the most obvious solve but, like new signing Jack Bird, his kicking game is not nearly good enough.
The first point of order for Brisbane will be naming their half-back for 2018 as the club cannot logically progress and plan for next season without doing so.
They will also need to rebuild their depth. The Broncos performed admirably at the back end of this year despite missing many key players but that wouldn’t be possible across a full season.
Fringe forwards such as George Fai, Jaydn Su’A and new signing Andre Savelio will need a big pre-season in order to cope with more NRL minutes.
Did Brisbane’s Premiership window just shut? Potentially.
There will be a lot of turnover in the next few years with many of the club’s stars aging quickly. 2018 is already confirmed to be Sam Thaiday’s last, and he may not be alone.
Without taking into account unforeseen player signings, we may know as little about the Bronx’ 2018 prospects in six months time as we do now.
They will well and truly be a wildcard in their 31st season in the league but anything is possible with Wayne Bennett in charge.
What were your highlights and lowlights from Brisbane Broncos’ 2017 season? Let us know in the comments below.
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