Broncos must wake up or risk a ‘riot’
BRONCOS front row legend Shane Webcke says the reputation of Brisbane's pack is on the line and challenged their big-name forwards to show some mongrel against the Cowboys on Friday night.
Brisbane's forwards are under pressure to hit back in the Queensland derby after they were mauled by the Dragons in last week's 34-12 horror show in the NRL season opener at Kogarah.
Webcke believes Brisbane have the roster to mount a legitimate title challenge this season but admits their premiership push could collapse if the Broncos aren't well positioned when State of Origin begins in June.
If anyone understands the challenge facing the Broncos pack, it is Webcke.
The former Maroons enforcer set the platform for four of Brisbane's title wins between 1997 and 2006 and he urged Brisbane's pack to stand up to Cowboys big boppers Jordan McLean, Jason Taumalolo and Matt Scott.
"How Brisbane's forwards respond to the disappointing start will tell me a lot about their character and the side's character," said Webcke, a 254-game Broncos icon.
"The most compelling thing the Broncos pack can do is cut their errors out. If they make unforced errors this week, the Cowboys could run riot on them. They need to be wary of that.
"I always think the Broncos have a squad capable of winning the competition but you have to lose games at the right time.
"That sounds ridiculous but the reality is you will lose a certain amount of games and the key is not having a slump at the wrong time.
"This part of the year is particularly important for the Broncos.
"When you have your first team available, this is when you want to be banking your wins.
"If the Broncos don't put together a little bank of wins now, holy hell, by the time Origin rolls around, if the Broncos haven't done enough in the first part of the season, they won't be winning anything."
Broncos coach Wayne Bennett set the tone on Monday when he barked orders at six players, including halfback Kodi Nikorima, for failing to play-the-ball properly at training.
It is the type of one per cent area the Broncos must address to overcome a monster Cowboys pack Webcke rates the biggest he has seen in North Queensland's 23-year history.
Alarmingly, seven Broncos forwards failed to run for more than 70 metres against the Dragons. They were Sam Thaiday (41m), Alex Glenn (68m), Matt Gillett (62m), Josh McGuire (51m), Joe Ofahengaue (60m), Korbin Sims (41m) and Jaydn Su'A (27m).
"It's a wake-up call," Webcke said.
"I'm not surprised by Wayne's reaction at all. This time of the year is crucial to get the little things right.
"Unless I am very mistaken, you won't see another lacklustre performance from the Broncos. They will come out firing and it's important they do because this Cowboys pack is massive, their rotation is incredible."