Title-hungry Brisbane say no more excuses
NO more excuses. That's the mantra Brisbane have adopted for the 2018 NRL season as they look to snap the glamour club's longest premiership drought.
The six-time premiers last tasted glory in 2006 - not that they have to be reminded.
In the foyer of their new $27 million headquarters, unveiled before the season, the Broncos' silverware is proudly on display.
"We have always been a team that has been built on success, even from day one,” veteran forward Sam Thaiday said.
"We have got the brand-new facility so we have zero excuses now.
"We just have to convert all the good things for us off the field with some good results on it.”
Since coach Wayne Bennett's return in 2015 the Broncos have been thereabouts, finishing second, fifth and third on the regular season ladder and reaching a grand final, the semi-finals and the preliminary final respectively.
But do they have the quality to claim a seventh title under Bennett in 2018?
After being blown away 30-0 by Melbourne in last year's finals, Brisbane lost Ben Hunt, Benji Marshall, Tautau Moga, Jai Arrow, Herman Ese'ese and Adam Blair in the off-season.
They added quality, not quantity.
Prized recruit Jack Bird arrived from Cronulla and is set to start his Broncos career in the centres after speculation he may dabble at lock or in the halves.
However, the NSW State of Origin star will miss at least the first month of the NRL campaign due to shoulder surgery.
The spotlight will fall on Brisbane's halves after Hunt's lucrative off-season move to St George Illawarra.
Bennett has given Kodi Nikorima first shot in the No.7 jersey after Brisbane won 11 of 13 games with the Kiwi rep starting in the halves last year.
He will combine with Anthony Milford, who returns from shoulder surgery to begin his new four-year, $1 million-plus per season deal - making him the highest-paid player in club history.
Then there's the pack.
Matt Lodge has controversially snapped up a one-year lifeline after avoiding jail for a 2015 New York rampage and he is set to fill the front-row void left by Blair's departure.
However, Thaiday believes whoever fills the three bench-forward vacancies can prove the difference this season.
Tevita Pangai and Joe Ofahengaue face stiff opposition from Jaydn Su'A, Dave Fifita, Cronulla recruit Sam Tagataese and ex-winger Corey Oates, who trialled as a back-rower during the pre-season.
Giant 18-year-old prop Payne Haas is also knocking down the door with his 194cm, 120kg frame.
"The most important people are going to be the three big boppers on the bench, the young guys are going to be the key,” Thaiday said.
"It is their time to shine.”
"I am sure over the next few years with the youth coming through we will be a real threat to the competition.”