Brisbane Broncos 2024 season preview

Brisbane Broncos 2024 season preview

2023 recap

The Broncos had a stellar year in 2023 as they came within a whisker of their first Premiership since 2006. Having gone three years without finals footy and even picking up the wooden spoon in 2020, Brisbane’s sole aim would have been just to make the top eight last year, but that was never in doubt.

They started the season with a one-point victory over the reigning premiers, Penrith, and went on to win seven of their next nine games to firmly cement themselves high up the ladder. Back-to-back defeats followed in rounds 11 and 12, but they lost just two of their last 12 matches in the regular season, including a dead rubber against Melbourne in round 27 with a much-changed side.

In week one of the finals, they faced the Storm again, only with their strongest possible line-up. A 26-0 whitewash meant they got the following week off, and in the prelims they beat the Warriors by 30 points to set up a Grand Final showdown with the Panthers.

The Broncos were brilliant in Sydney, and held a 24-8 lead after 56 minutes, but Penrith were just a little bit better, and hit back with the biggest comeback in Grand Final history to win 26-24 and leave the Broncos to wonder what might have been.

2023 position: 2nd

Key signings

Fletcher Baker (Sydney Roosters), Jaiyden Hunt (St George Illawarra Dragons), Ethan O’Neill

Key departures

Kurt Capewell (New Zealand Warriors), Herbie Farnworth (Dolphins), Thomas Flegler (Dolphins), Keenan Palasia (Gold Coast Titans), Ethan Quai-Ward (released)

Players to watch

Reece Walsh was outstanding in his first year of first grade at the Broncos. Having left Brisbane as a teenager to get immediate first grade action at the Warriors, Walsh was always likely to head back to Queensland, and in 2024 he made the number one jersey his own, becoming one of the NRL’s best fullbacks and even getting a Queensland jumper as well. The key for him will be repeating his form again in 2024.

Selwyn Cobbo has been a star on the wing for the past couple of years, but with Herbie Farnworth departing for pastures new, he’s likely to be a starting centre in 2024. His ability to cross the line isn’t in any doubt, as 37 tries in 49 NRL games will testify, but he’ll be tested a lot more defensively in his new role, and with Farnworth having developed into one of the competition’s best centres in the past couple of seasons, he has big boots to fill.

Young gun

With Cobbo shifting to the centres, there’s a chance for Deine Mariner to nail down a wing spot. The 20-year-old has five tries in six games of first grade, so he’s proved he knows where the line is. Now it’s up to him to cement a place in the side and keep Corey Oates at arm’s length.

Our prediction – 2nd

The Broncos came out of nowhere to finish 2nd and reach the Grand Final in 2023, and I’m confident it was no flash in the plan. With Adam Reynolds and Ezra Mam in the halves, they have one of the best pairings in the NRL, Payne Haas is arguably the best prop in the competition, and Reece Walsh is right up there as far as fullbacks go.

They’ll miss the likes of Kurt Capewell, Herbie Farnworth and Thomas Flegler, who were all stalwarts of the 2023 side, but it opens up opportunities for some of their young fringe players to step up and I’m certain they will.

Darren Notley

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