At the start of the pre-season it looked like Jamayne Isaako had the Broncos’ fullback spot all sewn up but things might not be so cut and dried, writes MIKE COLMAN.
Just a month out from the start of the season and the number one question facing the Broncos is: who is going to be number one?
There was a time when fullback was one of the most settled positions at the club. Since the historic day in 1988 when Maroons stalwart Colin Scott wore it in the Broncos’ first game, through the eras of Julian O’Neill, Paul Hauff, Darren Lockyer, Karmichael Hunt and Darius Boyd, the No.1 jersey has been filled comfortably by some pretty broad shoulders.
But right now, after last year’s failed Boyd-Anthony Milford switcheroo it is very much up for grabs.
At the start of the pre-season the general consensus was that Jamayne Isaako had the spot sewn up but while the 2018 rookie of the year is still hot favourite to run out at fullback for the first round, word emerging from Red Hill is that things might not be so cut and dried.
In fact, the only certainty about who will be wearing the jersey is that it won’t be Boyd.
If last year’s team captain is to get a regular start in first grade it will almost certainly be in the centres alongside Kotoni Staggs, which raises the question – what will happen to Jack Bird?
It hasn’t gone unnoticed that Bird, one of the club’s highest-paid players, has been training at fullback.
As has recent signing Jesse Arthars who came to the club from the Titans after working with Broncos coach Anthony Seibold at Souths.
Seibold sought out Arthars to add depth to his outside backs roster, with the pacy 21 year-old adept at wing, centre or fullback although he has made no secret of which position he has his eye on.
“I can bring a lot of speed out the back,” he said. “I can talk a lot out the back as well. At the end of the day it just depends what Seibs wants from his fullback.”
The answer to that is pretty much everything he didn’t get last season, with first Boyd and then Milford failing to impress in the position.
And while Isaako is the obvious front runner, his 2019 fell a long way short of his dynamic debut season, meaning he still has plenty of work to do if he is to make the No.1 his own.
Adding to the mix are Jordan Kahu and Tesi Niu.
Kahu, returning to Brisbane after a season with the Cowboys, was impressive as a replacement fullback for the injured Boyd in 2015 and has played Test football in the position.
Tongan international Niu, who played Queensland under 18s in 2018 with David Fifita, Tom Dearden and Xavier Coates, has looked sharp in pre-season training.
It all adds up to the type of problem that every coach would like to have. Unlike last season Seibold has plenty of options – and all of them pretty good.