New-look Broncos go on attack
BRISBANE will unveil a different playing style against the Bulldogs at ANZ Stadium in Sydney tonight which the club hopes will not only win back fans, but silence early season critics who have already written off the Broncos in 2014.
Abysmal pre-season trial losses to second round opponents North Queensland, and the physical New Zealand Warriors, in which they leaked a disturbing 80 points in total, did little to allay fears the six-time premiers would miss the playoffs for an unprecedented second year running.
Brisbane turned in a sharp final ball session at Red Hill yesterday after which coach Anthony Griffin confirmed a lot of hard work had gone into getting the team's attack firing, despite the lack of a recognised five-eighth.
"We've certainly put a lot of work into our attack, but we're not going out against the Bulldogs to try and get everything right and throw the ball around in round one," Griffin told APN.
"With someone like (fullback) Ben Barba, his natural instincts usually put him in the right position to get the off-loads so no doubt, if one comes off, he'll probably be on the end of it."
However, a source close to the Broncos camp said Griffin had spent the past two months experimenting with his forward formation in a bid to introduce an off-loading style to maximise the attacking brilliance of the club's star off-season recruit Barba, and new No.6, Josh Hoffman.
"You'll see a different Broncos this year," he said.
The Bulldogs, who have been hit by the loss of key forwards Sam Kasiano and Greg Eastwood, along with classy centre Krisnan Inu, will test Hoffman's defensive technique by running their big forwards at the Kiwi International who, in 89 NRL games, has never had to make more than six tackles a match.
"Josh will handle it just fine, he's a great runner of the ball and defensively he's not scared," said Griffin, who admitted Barba would have to shut out a hostile reception planned for his ANZ Stadium comeback.